When I cook for myself, I usually make some variation of pot of vegetables. Whatever's in season, plus some miso or hoisin or pesto or fish sauce/lime/sesame oil. Sometimes I just eat it cold. Sometimes I roast the veggies but not when I'm starving or when it's 90 degrees out. And when I'm cooking for others, I go all out. If not in time and effort, then definitely in flavor ambition. I exercise my kitchen appliances, frequent my spice stadium, and tend towards skate and rabbit over chicken and beef.
But even I cannot resist the charms of excellent roast chicken. I felt a little apologetic making this the other night. "Oh, it just a homey recipe." "I thought I'd make us something normal."
But really, roast chicken is one of the most magnificent things you can ever eat as a diner, and perfect as a cook. But I just don't make it. It could be something of a next-best-thing syndrome. You won't make a splash with a roast chicken.
I guess the older I get, the more I can see the virtues of a simple roast chicken, that classic is not boring. I'm not sure if I'll cycle more chicken into my repertoire, but it's a thought.
RECIPE: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sear a chicken, quartered, in a cast iron pot with some olive oil. I half-skin the chicken because I am like that. When you're on the second side, add 3 diced carrots, 1 red onion, 15 cloves of garlic, fresh thyme, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the aromatics blossom and the onion becomes transparent. Add juice of one lemon. Then semi-cover the pot and place in oven. There should be a good amount of liquid from the ingredients. This is the braising liquid.
Braise for about 20 minutes. Then uncover the pot and broil on high to reduce liquid and re-goldenize the chicken. Serves 2-3.