Tonight we had Mark Bittman’s roast chicken, roasted potatoes and Tyler Florence’s Green Bean Salad with Black Olive and Creme Fraiche Dressing. The chicken is a departure from my devotion to Nigella Lawson’s chicken roasting method, but I have been reading Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and been dying to try one of his recipes, so I made the chicken and potatoes his way, about which more, later.
The Green Bean Salad is from Florence’s book Tyler’s Ultimate, from which I am cooking all week before I have to return the book to the library. I used fresh green beans and dill from the market, but could not find creme fraiche anywhere. I had fully intended to make a substitute using half sour cream and half whipping cream, but I completely forgot to buy the whipping cream until it was too late. So I used sour cream, instead. Then I tasted it, and it tasted sour (by which I do not mean “tangy,” which is intriguing, but plain old “sour”). This sour thing was not improved by the fact that the recipe also involves both lemon juice and dill. So I actually went and bought whipping cream and mixed it into the completed recipe. Do I know better? Probably. Was I desperate to save my salad? You bet. Did I save it? YES! It was really good, although I suspect it would have been even better made with the creme fraiche.
Green Bean Salad with Black Olive and Creme Fraiche Dressing
(from Tyler’s Ultimate by Tyler Florence)
- Kosher Salt
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 1 cup creme fraiche
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
- Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish
Bting a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and add salt to it until it tastes lightly salty. When the water comes to a boil, add the beans and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain, then refresh in warer bath to keep the bright green color, and drain well again. Put the beans in a bowl.
In a blender, combine the creme fraiche, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste and blend until smooth. Pour over the green beans. Add the olives and toss. Garnish with dill sprigs.
As for the chicken, I was immediately captivated by Mark Bittmans’ insistence that roasting should be done at a really high temperature for best results. Although I have always roasted chicken at around 400 degrees, his recipe calls for an initial oven temperature of 500 without potatoes, and 450 degrees with. His recipe also calls for basting, which I have generally dismissed as ridiculous, although it is basting with olive oil and herbs – how can that be bad? This came out looking and tasting quite splendid, although I think the potatoes might have gotten crispier if I had drained most of the fat away from them during the cooking, or transferred them to separate pan to finish. Next time….
Mark Bittman’s Roast Chicken and New Potatoes
(from How to Cook Everything)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano or sage leaves or 2 teaspoons, dried (I used rosemary)
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 whole (3-4 pound chicken) trimmed of excess fat, then rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds waxy red or white potatoes, the smaller the better, skins on and scrubbed (I sliced up Yukon Golds, instead)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Mix together the olive oil, herb, salt and pepper. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan (I use my cookie cooling rack over a 9 x 13 pan). Toss half of the herb mixture with the potatoes and scatter them in the pan. Begin roasting.
After the chicken has roasted about 20 minutes, spoon some of the olive oil mixture over it and the potatoes, then turn the bird breast side up. Shake the pan so the potatoes turn and cook evenly.
Shake the pan and baste the chicken again after 7 or 8 minutes; at this point the breast should be beginning to brown (if is isn’t, roast a few more minutes). Turn the heat down to 325, baste again with the remaining olive mixture, and roast until an instant-read thermometer insterted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 to 165. Total roasting time will be 50 to 70 minutes.
Remove the chicken and taste a potato; if it isn’t quite done, raise the heat to 425 and roast while you rest and carve the chicken; it won’t be long. Serve the chicken, garnished with herbs, with the potatoes scattered around it.