I really care about this chicken
Home Movies Tuesday!
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
ICYMI, in an effort to focus on the Thursday newsletter (and give myself time to write this new book), I am passing the baton on the Home Movies Tuesdays edition of A Newsletter. Up first: Jane Morgan, aka JaneCooksForYou, a delightfully skilled home cook who appreciates dill as much as I do. Please give a warm welcome to Jane, as you’ll be hearing more from her waxing poetic about these new videos for recipes you love. See you on Thursday! -AR
Hi! Jane here. I’ve never met a roasted chicken I didn’t like. They’re always great, but never thrilling— something a Nancy Meyers protagonist might “just whip up!” for a dinner party while draped in white linen, a usually “whatever” thing to order at your favorite neighborhood restaurant. They almost always elicit a “this is really good,” or “this is exactly what I needed,” but very rarely a “holy shit, this is maybe the best thing I’ve ever eaten.” The first time I made this recipe (first seen here in A Newsletter), I literally said that out loud, and you know what, I stand by it!
This episode of Home Movies has something for everyone, including but not limited to: the biggest leeks you’ve ever seen, fancy anchovies, olive oil positivity, the secrets to aioli success, NSFW chicken, Alison accidentally eating a rock and a good old-fashioned reality check about crispy-skinned chicken (does it exist? who could say!).
The chicken itself is deeply golden and flavorful, and this simple method is a great roast chicken recipe to have in your back pocket, but listen: the belles of the ball are the extremely crispy, somehow silky-tender, schmaltzy as hell leeks that may look burnt but are in fact perfect (I promise–you did an amazing job). I don’t know if I’ll ever cook a chicken without leeks again now that I know the experience I’d be robbing myself of.
That all said, my favorite thing about this recipe is that it’s truly a full meal— a real “spring chicken dinner,” if you will. There’s the leek salsa verde: punchy, bright, and answers the question on everyone’s mind when cooking with leeks: wtf do I do with the dark green part? (The beloved PLS also bravely uses the whole leek, btw). You can make it without anchovies if you have yet to be indoctrinated into Anchovy Hive (we’re always looking for new members–inquire within!), but WOW are they good here, both in the sauce and on the side.
Then, maybe most importantly, there’s the creamy, garlicky aioli (non-negotiable for dipping). The last time I made this chicken/aioli sitch, I served it with tiny boiled potatoes, blanched asparagus, radishes, and snap peas for a whole grand aioli vibe and loved every minute of it.
Click HERE for a printable PDF.
Spring Chicken with Crispy Leeks
This is a chicken that is mostly about the leeks, but without the chicken, the leeks would be nothing, so I guess it’s an equal partnership. While you could just do the chicken and leeks alone, serving it with the garlicky aioli, leek salsa verde (made from the tops of the leeks) and an assortment of whatever vegetable you can find makes this whole thing feel like a true event. While there are a million ways to roast a chicken, I find the “425° for about an hour” technique produces the best version for this specific occasion. Golden brown skin, crispy bits (wingtips, the butt) of chicken, and leeks that are both braised and tender, crunchy and crackly.
For the chicken and salsa verde:
1 3 ½ – 4lb. Chicken
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup/52 grams olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large leek (or 2 smaller leeks)
½ lemon, optional (see instructions for alternatives)
½ bunch chives, finely chopped
1 cup parsley, tender leaves and stems, finely chopped
4 stalks green garlic, finely chopped (or 2 cloves garlic, finely grated)
4 anchovy fillets or 2 tablespoons capers, finely chopped
For the aioli and serving:
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon/5 grams dijon mustard
1-2 garlic cloves, finely grated
White distilled vinegar, as needed
¾ cup/156 grams neutral oil, such as grapeseed, canola, vegetable
¼ cup/52 grams olive oil
Remaining tin of anchovies
Small potatoes, boiled till tender
Asparagus or green beans, blanched till al dente
Radishes, snap peas, crunchy lettuces or sliced fennel, raw
For the chicken and salsa verde:
1. Preheat your oven to 425°. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet or a large (10–12”) cast-iron skillet. Pat the bird dry with paper towels and season with salt and lots of black pepper. You can stuff the cavity with a halved lemon, a quartered onion, a halved head of garlic, some rogue sprigs of herbs— but if you don’t have any of those things to spare, I wouldn’t sweat it. Tie (or don’t tie) your chicken legs together in a casual truss.
2. Remove the darkest green part of the leek (set aside, we’re going to eat it), and quarter the remaining white/light green part lengthwise and give it a rinse (if using small/medium leeks, just halve them lengthwise). Lay the leeks beside the chicken and drizzle the whole thing (leeks, chicken) with a little olive oil. Season the leeks with some salt and pepper, too.
3. Place this into the oven (middle rack, if you can), and don’t look at it for at least 35 minutes. No peeking, no touching, no basting, no turning, no fussing.
4. After 35 minutes, you can peek– it should not be “there” yet. You can baste or rotate the sheet pan if you like, but keep roasting another 20–25 minutes. You’re looking for deeply browned chicken skin, and a combination of totally tender, almost silky braised leeks coupled with crispy, dark, frizzled leeks. I like mine almost burnt, zero regrets, and if you are nervous about them getting a little dark before the chicken is ready, well, maybe this is not the chicken dish for you.
5. While the chicken is roasting and the leeks are almost burning, make use of the other part of the leek, the part we typically throw away (unless you’re making this soup again). Finely chop the dark green part of the leek and place it in a small bowl. Add finely chopped chives, parsley, finely chopped anchovies and season with salt and pepper. Season with a splash of vinegar or fresh lemon juice, then add enough olive oil to make it saucy and spoonable. This should taste onion-y, briny, bright, and extremely GREEN. Let it sit while your chicken finishes roasting– it gets better with time.
For the aioli and serving:
6. Combine oils together in a bowl or measuring cup with a spout. Place egg yolk, mustard and garlic in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in a few teaspoons of oil. Become more confident and whisk a little bit more oil, stopping to make sure it’s fully emulsified each time. Thin it out with a little white distilled vinegar if it becomes too thick. Whisk in more oil until it’s all been added. Season with salt, vinegar, and more garlic, if you think it needs it.
7. When it’s time to eat, place all your vegetables (the blanched the boiled, the raw the sliced) onto a large plate. If you opened a tin of anchovies for the sauce, place the tin on or next to the plate, too.
8. Tip the rested chicken slightly on the sheet pan or in the cast iron/dish you roasted it in to catch all the juices so they don’t run all over your cutting board. Slice the legs away from the body of the bird (to catch more juices) then transfer the chicken to a cutting board to carve, then transfer the chicken to a large plate. Top with your fantastic leeks, then spoon any chicken drippings/juice over the whole thing (don’t worry about de-crisping the chicken skin, it wasn’t that crispy to begin with).
9. Serve with your leek salsa verde, aioli, and that celebration of spring (your vegetables). Dip the chicken into both sauces, followed by a perfect little boiled potato. Place an anchovy on a radish, dip that in the aioli. Snack on a lettuce. Drag a slice of chicken through the juices that have pooled on the bottom of the plate. Have a sip of wine, wish you had an artichoke, feel full and happy and grateful for all the things you have, but today, especially for spring and for that chicken.