After eating my way through Croatia and Germany, I took the train to Switzerland to visit my friend Justin who's working over there. I've been on the road a lot, Inter-railing through Zurich, Lucerne, Vevey and finally Geneva.
Switzerland is gorgeous, and I've apparently managed to hit every festival in every city because of Swiss National Day. But it is sooo expensive. So when I finally made it to Vevey, I was stoked to take over Justin's kitchen, eat some home cooked food, and save a LOT of cash.
Like many guys, Justin's pantry is... limited. And I didn't want to buy a lot of stuff he'll never use again. So we concocted the "Denner Challenge." Of the many markets in his neighborhood, Denner is the decidely downmarket one. I had to make a dinner that proved that three months of culinary school was, in fact, worth it, with a limited basket of cheap ingredients.
I went with chicken. A simple roast chicken is one of the easiest, most economical ways to pull together a decent dinner. At its most basic level, all you need is olive oil or butter, salt and pepper. No sweat, right? But Justin threw me a curveball. He had NO SALT!?! I recovered with some weird herb flavored stuff that turned the potatoes a mild shade of green, and the whole thing turned out fine.
Add a quick salad of spicy radish, cool cucumber and lemon to cut the richness of the chicken, and you've got a gorgeous plate of food using just ten ingredients. And if I can find it at Denner, you can find it anywhere!
Simply Roast Chicken, Potatoes and Onions with Cucumber Radish Salad
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 50 min Total Time: 70 min
1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds / 1.4 kg
1 lemon, halved
1 lb / 0.5 kg new potatoes or fingerlings
5 small or 2 medium onions, quartered
salt and pepper
1 cucumber, peeled, quartered, seeded and chopped
large handful radishes, trimmed and sliced
5-6 sprigs parsley, leaves chopped and stems reserved
Preheat oven to 400F / 200C.
Cut the wishbone out of the breast of the chicken to make it easier to slice later. Stuff the cavity with half the lemon, some onion quarters, and the parsley stems. Rub the outside of the chicken with salt, pepper, then olive oil. Place in roasting pan and bake, 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill saucepan 2/3 with water and bring to a boil. Add a large pinch of salt. Cook potatoes for about 10 minutes, til not quite cooked through. Drain the potatoes.
After chicken has been in the oven 30 minutes, remove the pan. Take out the chicken and toss the potatoes and onions with the rendered fat in the pan. Create a little hollow in the vegetables and nestle the chicken back into the pan.
Roast another 30 to 45 minutes. You'll know it's done when the juices from the thigh area run clear and internal temp of the thigh reads at 165-170F. A larger bird will take longer, so if the skin starts to look too crispy, just turn down the heat to 375F / 190C for the duration of cooking. And if for some reason the skin isn't browning, crank the heat to 450F / 230C for the final 5 minutes.
Remove chicken and vegetables from pan and let rest 15 minutes. Spoon the fat off the juices left in the pan. If you're feeling fancy, deglaze the pan on the stovetop with a splash of wine or water and boil for a minute or two to thicken a bit.
Meanwhile, toss cucumber, radish, half the chopped parsley, juice from the other half of the lemon and about a Tbs of olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, carve the legs off the chicken, and split into drumstick and thigh. Cut the wings off, then the breasts, keeping the crispy skin intact on each piece. Serve the chicken pieces over the roasted potatoes and onions, drizzling over some pan juices and a sprinkle of parsley. Add a side of the cucumber radish salad.