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In classic French cooking there is something called the “Mother Sauce”. It refers to five sauces from which you can make all of the other “small sauces”. In other words, you can make a big vat of the mothers and then use the leftovers to make some other stuff.  That’s where I came up with the idea of having “Mother Dishes”. These are things you can cook that will leave you with leftover stuff to use in making other dishes. This is the first of those dishes: the roast chicken.

For some reason, every time I mention that I am roasting a chicken someone gets all impressed that I’m making something so fancy. I have no idea what drugs these people are taking but I wish they would share. Aside from culinary achievements like boiling water or making ice cubes, there are few things easier than roasting a chicken. Because posting just a recipe for roasting a chicken would make me look stupid, we’ll add roasted potatoes and some sautéed spinach for a balanced meal.

Equipment:

  • Big knife
  • For the chicken
    • Roasting pan or a cooling rack and a 13×9 baking pan.
  • For the potatoes
    • Pie dish or similarly sized oven safe dish
  • For the spinach
    • 10″ Sauté pan
    • spatula or wooden spoon
    • colander

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary (preferably fresh but dried will do)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 2 lbs new French Fingerling or similar potatoes
  • 1.5 lbs spinach
  • Dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Time: Okay, this is different:

  • For the chicken
    • Take the weight of the chicken (for example 4.5 lbs)
    • Multiply that by 15 (67.5)
    • Add 10 minutes (77.5)
    • If you are using a convection oven multiply that by .9 (69.75)
    • So, in the case of a 4.5 lb chicken, you would cook it for 1 hour, 17 minutes, and 30 seconds in a regular oven or 1 hour, 9 minutes, and 45 seconds in a convection oven. Realistically you could just round up and go with 1 hour 20 minutes for the regular oven and 1 hour 10 minutes for the convection.
    • That is how long you have to cook the chicken.
  • For the potatoes: 45 minutes. Since the chicken needs to rest for 10 minutes, you subtract 35 minutes from the chicken cooking time and put them in then.
  • For the Spinach: This should take about 10 minutes so the spinach should be cooked while the chicken is resting.
  • Take the chicken cooking time, add 10 minutes for the chicken to rest and another 10 minutes for the oven to heat up and you have the whole time.

Serves: 2 people per pound of chicken but you should plan to have leftovers, that’s the whole point!

NOTE: When you are done with the chicken, put it in a 1 gallon freezer bag and stick it in the freezer. When you have 3 carcasses you can use them to make ghetto stock (Recipe to follow).

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 450º and adjust one rack in the bottom position and one rack above with enough room for the chicken.
  2. Unwrap the chicken and TAKE THE BAG OF CHICKEN GUTS OUT OF THE CHICKEN!!! Otherwise it’s just yucky especially if the bag is plastic.
  3. Put the chicken on the rack of the roasting pan.
  4. Cut the lemon in half and stick it inside the chicken because you already removed the bag of chicken guts. This imparts a tiny bit of flavor but mostly is there to keep the chicken from drying out.
  5. Coat the chicken with olive oil and give it a little massage.
  6. Wash your hands.
  7. Sprinkle rosemary and salt over the oily bird liberally.
  8. Smile beatifically while you wait for the oven to reach temperature.
  9. When the oven hits 450º, put the chicken in the oven.
  10. Quarter the potatoes.
  11. Coat them with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and salt.
  12. When you have 35 minutes left in the chicken cooking time, put the potatoes in on the lower rack.
  13. Ponder the meaning of life for a half hour.
  14. When the chicken is done, take it out of the oven then set the timer for 10 minutes.
  15. Put the sauté pan on the stove over medium high heat and put the butter and a splash of wine in the pan.
  16. When the butter is melted, wait another minute then put the spinach in the pan.
  17. Let the spinach wilt a bit and then stir it so that the spinach wilts evenly.
  18. When the spinach had reached the desired level of doneness, take it out of the pan and pop it in the colander in the sink to let it drain a little.
  19. Serve!