October 24, 2018

Dear friends,
One more vacation post and then I’ll stop, I promise. But I have to tell you about the clever way Parisian butcher shops make rotisserie chicken. Yes, that trend has travelled across the Atlantic.

I didn’t see any spitted chickens in supermarkets, but some charcuteries — meat/deli shops — are cashing in by setting up free-standing, glass-enclosed rotisseries outside on the sidewalk. The birds are spitted three or four across in three or four vertical rows with — here’s the genius detail — a pile of potato chunks at the bottom.

As the birds cook, they drip their delicious juices onto the garlic-flecked potatoes below. The birds turn golden brown. The potatoes turn golden brown. What a grand idea.

I don’t have a rotisserie, so I jerry-rigged the next-best thing. I tumbled a bunch of halved baby potatoes with coarse sea salt, chopped garlic and olive oil on the bottom of an oblong baking pan. I placed a wire cooling rack over the pan and roasted the chicken on top.

Just as in the rotisseries in Paris, the juices dripped down and flavored the potatoes. I coated the raw potatoes with olive oil so they wouldn’t stick to the pan and burn before the juices began to flow. It worked perfectly.

ROAST CHICKEN WITH GARLIC POTATOES AND DRIPPINGS

1 roasting chicken, about 4 1/2 to 5 lbs.
Olive oil
Salt
1 1/2 lbs. baby potatoes, scrubbed and halved, or larger potatoes in 1 1/2-inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove packet of giblets, if there, and wash chicken inside and out. Trim any large pieces of fat around openings. Blot chicken dry with paper towels. Rub all over with olive oil. Rub all over with about a tablespoon of salt. Set aside.

Place the potatoes in a 9-by-12-inch baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat evenly. Use just enough oil to gloss the potatoes. Season with salt and toss again with garlic.

Place a cooling rack over the baking pan. It should be large enough to rest on the rim of the pan. Place chicken on rack. Roast at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes per pound, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 to 170 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. Let rest 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Serves 4.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
A steak salad platter of pan-grilled top sirloin over mixed baby lettuces with sautéed mushrooms, toasted walnuts, onions and roast beets with feta cheese and vinaigrette; roast chicken over garlic baby potatoes; Japanese chicken and rice soup; sugar-free pumpkin pie.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Chicken lo mein, egg roll and fortune cookie from China Star in Akron; lamb Bolognese over pasta and hamburger with blue cheese (shared) at Wolf Creek Tavern in Norton; half of a Subway Cubano sandwich; two cheeseburgers and a few fries from Swenson’s.

THE MAILBAG
From Mark:
While enjoying custard tarts in Portugal three weeks ago, I wondered why they resembled a sweeter, more vanilla-flavored version of the Hong Kong egg tarts which culminate my dim sum feasts at Li Wah in Cleveland. Simple: The Portuguese brought them to Macau, and local chefs complimented their Western visitors by adopting the recipe. Now I know that the French have done the same, although using pastry cream seems tres Gallique.

Dear Mark:
Thank you for providing more background on those delicious custard tarts. I have had poor versions at the Chinese buffets Tony drags me to. I’ll have to try the real thing at Li Wah.

From Ellen M.:
I’m a big fan of The Great British Baking Show on PBS. The last challenge I watched was for patisseries. NEVER heard of this before, and lo and behold, here you are giving us a recipe for the custard tarts.

Your recipe looked a lot easier than theirs. Making the “creme pat,” and Mary Berry said the store puff pastry is excellent and making your own is so much work. I’m going with Mary Berry and Jane Snow.

And of course Paul Hollywood, the hunk, but I digress. Thanks again for the recipe, and enjoyed your blog.

Dear Ellen:
I am glad you wrote about The Great British Baking Show. I have heard so much about the program and have been tempted to binge-watch the series on Netflix, but I am afraid I would end up making and eating a lot of the desserts. My hips can’t take it. For that reason, I avoid it. I like hearing about the show, though, so thanks. Maybe I’ll Google Paul Hollywood.

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