A New Year’s Day Challenge

On Duty All Day: What with two family birthdays in December, our annual Christmas party, and Christmas Day itself, by the time the end of December rolls around Mrs. Banks has more or less had it with holiday mirth, and reserves January 1 as “her day,” by which she means that I’m the one that day who does the cooking, mixing, and champagne-fetching while she relaxes in the den binging on re-runs of Murder, She Wrote. It’s not a bad arrangement, actually. The only potential glitch comes in the evening when it’s time make dinner. I do well enough at the grill during the summertime, but the logistics of putting out an entire meal can be a challenge. The best solution—including, importantly, the production of a meal that’s actually worth eating—is roast chicken (a popular choice around here) and roasted potatoes.

I really have nothing to add to the literature of roast chicken, and am amazed that people have come up with so many ways to make it. The recipe I used last night turned out a  bird that was moist and tasty on the inside, with crispy skin on the outside. Also, it was simple to make, which can be a real plus if you find yourself at your wife’s beck and call all day. Here goes:

Peel 6 or so Yukon gold potatoes, cut in halves or thirds, and par boil for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse a 5-to-7-pound chicken and dry all over. Cut an onion and a lemon both in half and put ’em in bird’s cavity. Melt a stick of butter and brush some of it all over the bird. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and tarragon and rosemary of you can find any. Place chicken (breast-side up!) in a roasting pan and arrange the boiled potatoes around it. Put chicken in oven. Baste it every 20 minutes with butter and, later on, its own pan juices. While you’re at it, baste the potatoes, too. After half an hour, turn oven down to 350 degrees. Chicken will be done in 90 minutes to two hours; check by making sure thigh juices run clear. When chicken is done, place it on a carving board and let it rest for 20 minute. While it’s resting, make the gravy in the roasting pan.

And dinner it is! We served family style with salad, dinner rolls and, much to my daughter’s horror, frozen cut-up green beans. The meal was a hit, just the same.

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