Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home
Gothamist went through a phase when we virtually never ordered roasted chicken from a restaurant menu. Not only was it something you could get virtually anywhere, it was also frequently roasted until dry and rubbery. Roasted chicken became a tired, boring menu cliché that rarely seemed to satisfy like it should.
Thankfully, that all began to change for us a few years ago when visiting what now has to be known as a city restaurant staple, Frank. Whenever we are in the mood to wedge ourselves into the cramped dining room for an inexpensive dinner, the roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and a side of garlicky sautéed spinach is an automatic order. Frank gets roasted chicken right -– crispy skin, a mix of moist and tender white and dark meat propped on luscious mashed potatoes and a pool of natural pan juices. Yum. (For what it’s worth, we also love the simple roasted chicken at Lil’ Frankies.)
We’ve given Frank’s roasted chicken a Fall twist by featuring the excellent local apples that are now in the markets. Our idea was to sauté apple slices with a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon, chop them finely, then mix them into the creamy mashed potatoes. The bits of apple add a fantastic, subtle taste of Fall to the mash. We tie the apples into the dish once again by reducing apple cider along with the chicken pan juices for a quick and satisfying sauce.
Roasted Tarragon Chicken
with spiced apple mashed potatoes, sautéed garlic spinach, apple cider pan sauce
Our favorite technique for creating a moist, flavorful roasted chicken is to create a 'compound butter' that we like to slip under the skin. The butter is worth the five minutes it takes to create. Not only does it infuse the chicken with the finely chopped ingredients you mix into it, but it slowly seeps into the meat and keeps it moist while roasting.
When in a hurry, we like to buy chicken that has been quartered. You’ll be able to whip this meal up beginning an hour before serving. It’s also great to make in advance of serving – the potatoes and spinach are easy to reheat. Just try and serve the chicken about 15 minutes after roasting.
Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe serves two people
1 whole free-range chicken, quartered
3 large, 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick unsalted butter
12 oz (or larger) bottle of fresh apple cider
1 pint milk
1 bunch tarragon
1 large clove garlic
1 large red apple
1 10 oz bag of baby spinach
1 box plastic wrap
1 bottle cinnamon and nutmeg (buying whole and grinding at home is best)
Estimated cost of ingredients: $23 at Fairway
Make the Tarragon Butter for Chicken
Take ½ stick of butter, place in a small bowl and bring to room temp. Add one tablespoon finely chopped tarragon, one pinch kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to the butter. Incorporate the herbs until fully mixed into the butter (best to use your hands). Clean up, then lay out a sheet of plastic wrap. Add the butter to the plastic wrap and roll the ends tightly into a firm piece the shape of a sausage. You’ll need the butter to be hard again for the chicken. Place it back into the refrigerator for an hour or put in the freezer for about 20 minutes before using again.
Prep the Mashed Potatoes
Peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into about 1 inch cubes. In a saucepan combine potatoes with enough water to cover by 1 inch and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. While the mash cooks, make the apples.
Make the Spiced Apple
Rinse the apple. Slice into thick rounds (no need to get fancy, as we’ll shop them later). Bring a sauté pan to medium heat. Add one teaspoon of butter and mix into pan. Add one small pinch of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg to pan and mix. Immediately add the apples to the pan. Move them around to cover in spices. Cook for two minutes and flip. Cook for one more minute and remove from pan to a cutting board. Let cool, then rough-chop them into fine pieces. Set aside.
Finish Mashed Potatoes
Drain potatoes in a colander and add back to the pot. Add 3 tablespoons butter and 4-5 tablespoons milk to the saucepan while potatoes are still hot. Mash with a whisk until desired smoothness is achieved. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in chopped apples and set aside.
Prep and Roast the Chicken
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the chicken onto a foil covered cutting board. Take out the butter and slice into small coins. Take a coin of butter and find a spot where the chicken meat and skin separate. Add the butter and work it under the skin until it’s under the flesh of the meat. Add another coin of butter under the chicken piece and spread it to a butter-less section of the same piece. Make sure to spread the butter well – obviously the more area the butter covers the better. Do this for the rest of the chicken pieces.
Put the chicken pieces onto a baking pan or large skillet. Add one glug of olive oil over the top of the chicken and rub onto each piece - this is going to help make it crispy. Season both sides of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
Set the oven to broil and place the chicken in the oven. Let broil for about five minutes, continually checking it for brownness. You want the skin to get a nice brown color. When done, turn the oven back to 350 and cook for about 25 minutes. Every oven is different, so after about 20 minutes take the chicken out and slice into a leg (near the bone) and check for doneness. Return to oven briefly if necessary.
Make the Spinach
While the chicken is roasting, finely chop one clove of garlic. Add one glug of oil to a large sauté pan and place on medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Add the entire bag of spinach the pan after one minute and mix the garlic and oil into the spinach. Add one pinch of salt and pepper. Mix the spinach until wilted, but do not overcook. Cook for about 2 minutes tops. Set aside.
Make The Sauce
Place the potatoes and spinach in the warm (but turned off) oven to warm when chicken is done.
Keep chicken warm with covered foil. Remove all but about 1 tablespoon of juices and place on the stovetop. Stir in about 6 oz of the apple cider and one squeeze of lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, scraping the flavors stuck on the bottom of the pan. Reduce for 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Finish the Dish
Place a pile of mashed potatoes on the plate. Spoon the spinach around the potatoes. Place two pieces of chicken on each side of the mashed potatoes. Spoon sauce around dish and on top of chicken and serve.