(by Patricia Fieldsteel)
My favorite feast in a frying pan is one inspired by Melissa Clark of The New York Times. It’s easy, versatile, and beyond delicious. The ingredients are simple and must be high quality. Little work is required on the part of the cook—the cast-iron does it all for you.
4 - 5 lb. whole organic, free-range chicken
sea or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
4 lemons, quartered, pits removed
optional: small onion, peeled and cut in half
6 large garlic cloves, halved and smashed
6 large shallots, halved
bunch of spring onions or scallions, cleaned, green separated from white
extra-virgin, first cold-pressed olive oil
10 small potatoes, such as fingerling, ratte, or grenaille
1 T. capers
optional: splash of Madeira or sherry and pat of sweet butter
Preheat oven to 450 F. and place cast-iron skillet inside for one hour.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels, and sprinkle liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper inside and out.
Place chicken on a cutting board and separate the legs and thighs from the bird with a knife.
Splay them open until they fall flat and you can feel the joints separate with a pop.
Place sprigs of parsley and lemon halves inside the cavity, along with optional onion.
Place chicken, breast-side up, in hot pan.
Press legs down to rest flat.
Drizzle olive oil lightly over chicken and roast for 30 minutes.
Toss garlic, shallots, potatoes, whites of scallions, and capers into the skillet.
Stir to coat with pan juice.
Roast for 5 minutes and stir again.
Continue cooking until potatoes and shallots are tender and chicken is no longer pink, 5 - 15 minutes more with a total cooking time of 40 - 50 minutes.
Remove chicken from oven and stir scallion greens into the pan until wilted.
Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then serve with the pan juices and everything else, with juice from the remaining lemon wedges, if desired.
At the last minute, a pat of sweet butter and a splash of Madeira or sherry can add an extra oomph.
(Read The Nut Family, the story the accompanies this recipe.)