Saturday, November 8, 2008

Henry Fielding's Roast Chicken

Every person should have a meal like this.

There’s not a food group left untouched after this is over.

Granted, Tom Jones and Mrs. Waters are characters from The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling by Henry Fielding.

It does make you wonder about Fielding.

Logically, he must have enjoyed his food.

And his dinner companions..

Seems to me Fielding put his life experience whole heartedly into his work.

And then the movies came along and put it on the screen.

I don’t know about you, but I have never quite looked at roast chicken in the same way since.

Henry Fielding's Roast Chicken
Adapted from Jacques Pepin’s Table

1 3-4 pound chicken
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of good swirls extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425.

Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Heat a couple of good swirls of olive oil in large cast iron or oven proof skillet until hot and the olive oil looks wavy. Place chicken on one side in the skillet and brown over medium to high heat for 3 minutes or so. Turn it over and brown on the other side for 3 minutes.

Put the skillet in the oven. Roast chicken uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn on other side and roast for another 20 minutes. Then turn chicken on its back and baste with juices from cooking and roast it breast side up for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and place it breast side down on a platter. Pour drippings from skillet into a bowl and set aside to allow fat to rise to the top. Do not rinse the skillet. IF you are making the fabulous pasta side dish, read and follow those directions.

If no pasta for you, just the chicken, deglaze the skillet by adding a couple of tablespoons dry white wine, or red wine or water, whatever you have handy, and stir to melt the juices over high heat. Add to drippings in bowl and skim off and discard as much fat as you can. Serve with the chicken.

Serves 4 generously.

Pasta with Manchego
Adapted from Jacques Pepin's Table

10 ounces medium sized pasta (I used penne but shells are best)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup freshly grated Manchego cheese

Cook pasta and drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking water. Put the skillet the chicken was cooked in over medium high heat. Add the pasta water and bring to a boil, stirring to get the juices in the skillet and put this liquid in a bowl large enough to hold the pasta. Skim off about 3 tbsp fat that has risen to the top of the bowl with the original drippings. Add the fat to the bowl with the deglazing liquid. Add remaining ingredients and toss well.

Serves 4 generously.


Proud Italian Cook said...

Mmmmm, that skin looks all golden and crispy! I love how its roasted at 425, long gone are the days of 350! What a great dinner.

noble pig said...

Oh the crispy skin...I'm sold!

Peter M said...

Roast chicken demands crispy skin and as for the clip, this puts 9 1/2 Weeks to shame!

I will never eat chicken the same way now. lol

Darius T. Williams said...

I'm loving this manchego pasta - and there's NOTHING - and I do mean NOTHING like a great roast chicken!


democommie said...


Jacques Pepin, Madline Kamman, Julia Child, Pierre Franey and Marian Esposito were my telementors when I was learning that good things don't have to come from Stauffers and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I meant to say; I googled the movie title and got that Mrs. Waters (Joyce Redman) and Albert Finney are still sith us. She was the "older woman" (b. 1918) to his young rake (b. 1936). I remember telling my mom I was going to see "Cat Ballou" (I'm sure she thought "he must love that film, he's seen it eight times, this summeer!). Fortunately I had seen the review and was able to lie convincingly. Or, perhaps, she knew all along and figured I needed the edumicashun.

democommie said...

Darn it, that was mine, too.


Mary Coleman said...

Marie: It is so good. I'm with you on the 425 thing!

Cathy: Thanks!

Peter: I think I may have changed my view on oysters as well!

Darius: Oh honey you will love love love this pasta.

democommie: You're preaching to the choir about those guys!!! I'm so glad to see you again!!!