If you don't have a mortar and pestle, simply chop all the herbs and garlic together finely with a chef's knife and then smash them to a paste with the side of of the knife. It's a nice stress release whichever tool you use!
A special and nostalgic roast chicken recipe
Note: I first published this recipe on Umami Girl in January, 2010, and I’ve loved it ever since. (I even thought fondly of it during the years when we were vegetarian.) The text that follows is an excerpt from what I wrote in 2010, when our beautiful, grown-up 12 year old was a sweet little kindergartener. Juuuust gonna need a moment.
How to roast a chicken and teach a child
“The kindergartner and I decided to make a dinner together from Alice Waters’ wonderful children’s cookbook Fanny at Chez Panisse. Herb roasted chicken with baguette croutons on a simple lettuce salad with vinaigrette.
Kids’ book or no, it was one of the most delicious meals I’ve cooked in a long time.
But the result was almost an afterthought, since the process of cooking together—anticipating, planning, shopping, chopping, roasting and serving—was the main event of the day.
My kid attends a public, urban kindergarten program which, for all its tremendous strengths, has no edible schoolyard program (it barely has an edible school lunch program). So we spend a lot of time learning about where food comes from, and what to do with it, at home.
Herb roasted chicken that kids will love
Fanny’s chicken, which is rubbed with a savory paste of olive oil, garlic and herbs before roasting, was a big hit with kids and adults alike. We served it, as recommended, with a few slices of baguette drizzled with olive oil, toasted in a low oven and then rubbed with a clove of garlic, on some simple greens, with a shallot vinaigrette and some of the defatted pan juices poured overtop. The Kindergartner and I had a delightful time putting the meal together, and no one had any complaints.”
Okay, back to 2017. I’ve adapted the recipe a little to jive with our current tastebuds. I cooked it by myself this time but hope to do it again with kids — albeit not so little anymore — very soon.
For the chicken
- 2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary needles
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the dressing
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the gravy
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 baguettes, sliced
- Mixed greens
- Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center. Remove any giblets and pat chickens dry with paper towels. Set the chickens on a rack in a large roasting pan, breast side up, and cut away and discard the two pockets of fat tucked just inside the opening to each chicken’s cavity.
- Combine the rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil in a mortar, and smash it all into a paste with the pestle. (Alternatively, use the side of a chef’s knife to smash it all together.) Divide the paste between the two chickens and rub it all over the skin.
- Roast the chicken for 20 minutes with the breast side up. Then flip it and cook 20 minutes more, breast side down. Turn it over again and cook for an additional 20 minutes, breast side up. For a smaller chicken, this may be all the time you need. If it’s closer to 4 pounds, you’ll need an additional 20 or so minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165° F.
- While the chicken roasts, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper to make the dressing.
- Lay the baguette slices in a single layer on a sheet pan or two and brush each with a little bit of the dressing. When the chickens are cooked, let them rest on a cutting board, tented with foil, for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and place the sheet pans inside so the bread toasts a bit from the residual heat.
- While the chickens rest, set the roasting pan over medium-high heat on a burner (or two) on the stovetop. Whisk the flour into the pan drippings to form a paste. Then pour in the stock and whisk until there are no lumps. Simmer briskly for 5 to 10 minutes, lowering heat as necessary, until gravy is as thick as you like.
- To serve, place some simple greens on each plate, arrange a piece of chicken and a few garlic croutons on top, and drizzle as liberally as you like with both dressing and gravy.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 590Total Fat: 22.7gCarbohydrates: 28.6gFiber: 3gProtein: 65.9g