14 October 2010

Mustard Roasted Chicken and Super Crispy Roast Potatoes

As the sweltering summer days and nights gradually turn to a cool-autumn, I've instituted a new tradition -- the Sunday Roast! While the practice of cooking a large hunk of meat for an extended period of time has been maintained by families all over the place for countless generations, it is a bit of a novelty for me. I typically prefers a side dish or collection of appetizers for dinner, and am generally intimidated by cooking meat. Nonetheless, with some encouragement from my significant other, I've decided to make a regular go at roast beast, thus achieving one of my blog-goals of "cooking like a grown-up". 

Meat you say? Does the Sunday Roast require meat? Not always. As the fall turns to winter, I'll attempt to shake things up with some non-meat-roasted-main courses. But the end goal is the same -- a hearty dinner that Grandma would be proud of.
To start things off I went the manageable route with Roast Chicken. Chicken is pretty familiar, and I'd seen versions of this recipe both simple and complex in various sources -- a mustard roasted "devil's" chicken, which from what I can tell has its origins in the U.S. in a recipe written by Julia Child. After perusing several different versions, I thought I would wing it and create my own version. To begin with, I flattened my bird by removing his little backbone with a pair of kitchen scissors. This was a first attempt and relatively easy, largely due to the super sharp scissors on hand. Flattening the bird does make the cooking faster and more uniform, the carving relatively simpler, and I'm guessing is good for the environment too? (something I won't be boasting of later in the winter when I start cooking short ribs for 8 hours straight). 

Roast potatoes are, of course, the perfect accompaniment to chicken. I used the clever British method of peeling, par-boiling, draining, returning to pot to shake and ruffle the edges of said potatoes, and finally roasting to produce a crispy, golden on the outside, gorgeously creamy on the inside, spud. A green vegetable of some sort would be a nice compliment to the yellow-beige color tones of this dinner, alas I couldn't get to it, as I was busying myself with making a traditional dessert to accompany the meal (see my next post!).
Crunchy Mustard Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, approximately 2-3 lb
3 tbsp good quality mustard (not French's!)
2 tbsp butter, melted PLUS 1 tbsp unmelted
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
Salt and Pepper
Dried Oregano
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or Panko

Preheat oven to 400 F. Begin by preparing Chicken: with a sharp pair of kitchen shears, cut along both sides of backbone of the chicken, removing bone entirely. Salt and pepper both sides of the bird and press chicken flat into baking/roasting pan large enough to hold both the chicken and potatoes, spread with vegetable or canola oil. The skin of the bird should be relatively dry (if not pat dry with a paper towel before salting and peppering). 

Melt the butter and combine with mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Brush mustard all over the chicken and then coat with bread crumbs, pressing them gently into the mustard coating so they stick. Sprinkle with oregano. Cut up remaining 1 tablespoons of butter into little pieces and scatter around the top of the chicken. 

Roast for approximately 45-55 minutes till crispy on the outside, and when the juices run clear when you pierce a thigh with a skewer. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before carving. 

*When consulting Joy of Cooking they indicate that if you have a larger bird -- say 4 pounds -- it will take about 55 - 65 minutes to roast. 

Super Crispy Roast Potatoes

1 pound smallish baking Potatoes (russets or Idahos 
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Prepare a large saucepan of cold water. Wash potatoes and then peel and cut into 1 inch wedges, placing in the saucepan of water as you go along to prevent them from discoloring. Add 1 tsp salt, cover pan and bring to a rapid boil. Turn down slightly so they don't boil over, and cook for about 8 minutes. Drain in colander and shake as much water from them as possible. Return to the same saucepan and cover and place over low heat. At this stage the steam and heat from the burner should dry them out. Leave on stove top for no more than one minute. Turn off heat and holding the lid in place with a towel, shake the saucepan up and down and from side to side for about 20 seconds. This roughens the edges of the potatoes allowing them to become extra crispy in the oven. 

Uncover saucepan and drizzle potatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan around chicken. Don't worry about them being too covered in the oil as juices from the chicken will further allow them to brown and turn crispy. (Alternately, if you are making the potatoes by themselves, you should add a bit more oil so they are lightly coated. Goose or duck fat is also great here if you can get your hands on some of it. Additionally, a sprig or two of rosemary added to the pan would be nicely aromatic!)


  1. yum! i am going to try this with my CSA potatoes!!

  2. Nice! Yes, the method definitely works... I may try it with the purple potatoes too.


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