RECIPE TITLE "Roast Chicken and Potatoes with Bay Leaves"
excerpted from Italian Holiday Cooking Copyright © by Michele Scicolone.
Serves 4 ---
Ligurians think of All Saints' Day, November 1, as the starting point of the Christmas season, so the evening meal is always a festive one. Ravioli is the usual first course, followed by crisp roast chicken.
They have an old saying in this region: "Santi senza becco, Natale meschinetto," meaning, 'All Saints Day without a chicken [literally, without a beak], Christmas will be a poor one." Another version finishes the proverb with "Natale secco secco " -- "Christmas will be very dry," while a third predicts "Natale maledetto " -- "Christmas will be a bad one."
To ensure a happy Christmas or a good meal anytime, serve this roast chicken. With the chicken in the oven, roast some potatoes at the same time. I do them in a separate pan to ensure that they turn out crispy and browned. Be sure that you use a wide shallow pan for the potatoes and spread the potatoes in one layer, or they will steam rather than brown.
Serve the chicken with Porcini-Stuffed Zucchini (page 206) and follow with All Souls' Day Spice Cookies (page 246) for dessert.
1 broiler chicken (about 3 1/2pounds)
About 1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces sliced pancetta (about 4 slices), chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
4 medium potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup dry white wine
Position one oven rack on the lowest level and the other just above it, and preheat the oven to 450 F. Have ready two roasting pans, one that is wide enough to hold the potatoes in a single layer and shallow enough to fit on the lower rack, and another just large enough to hold the chicken.
Wash the chicken and pat it dry. Remove the excess fat from the cavity. Fold the wing tips behind the back. Rub the skin with a little olive oil and sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper.
Place half the pancetta and garlic and I bay leaf inside the chicken. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Put the chicken in the roasting pan.
Toss the potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, the remaining pancetta, garlic, and bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread in a single layer in the shallow roasting pan.
Place the potatoes on the lower oven rack and the chicken on the upper rack. Roast for 20 minutes. Toss the potatoes. Reduce the heat to 375 F and roast until the chicken is golden, 45 to 60 minutes more.
Pour the wine over the chicken. Cook for 10 minutes more, or until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork. Remove the chicken from the pan. Cover to keep warm and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Meanwhile, check the potatoes. They should be tender when pierced with a knife.
Carve the chicken and serve with the potatoes and the pan juices.
Wine Match: Sagrantino di Monte Falco, Terre de Trinci
Copyright © by Michele Scicolone. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
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