Melissa Clark’s “Dinner. Changing the Game” (Clarkson Potter 2017) arrived just a little late. The Instant Pot epidemic was fully underway and so this book took a back seat to her “Dinner in an Instant.75 modern recipes for your Pressure Cooker, Multi Cooker Instant Pot” (Clarkson Potter 2017). That is truly a shame. One day soon, I will tackle my experiences with the Instant Pot, not all of them as ecstatic as most reviewers have been. But today I’d like to embrace the philosophy of “Dinner. Changing the Game”.
Ms. Clark, a staff writer for the New York Times, writes: “Dinner often means a protein and two sides, a meat and two vegs. And this can make cooking dinner night after night a challenge.” No argument there as I count the nights till we eat out. It is almost daily struggle to come up with what to eat. However, Ms. Clark points out that our tastes are changing, the range of ingredients at our disposal are expanding constantly. Our immigrant population has made our grocery stores havens for new food inspirations.
“We’ve fallen in love with all kinds of diverse ingredients: preserved lemons, kimchi, miso, quinoa, pork belly, panko.” Ms. Clark points out. I note that she left out Kale on her list. In fairness I should tell you that today’s recipe used Baby Kale in lieu of Baby Spinach. In my search for fresh ingredients, I draw the line at Kale. But feel free if you are so inclined.
Who doesn’t love a crispy skinned Roast Chicken? This recipe starts out by applying the principle of ‘air-drying’ the chicken to get it’s the skin the crispiest. The bird rests in the fridge an hour (or more) and then goes into a hot oven all alone on a sheet pan. While it’s off sizzling in the oven, Meyer Lemons are sliced into thin triangles, blanched in boiling water and then added to canned chickpeas, olive oil and both sweet and hot smoked paprikas. That mixture is added to the ever-crispier chicken where the chickpeas too become crispy. Finally, the chicken is removed from the oven to rest. At that moment, the Baby Spinach is tossed in with the chickpeas, Meyer lemon juice tops the vegetables and the mixture is lightly salted.
The result lives up to Ms. Clark’s concept of Dinner: Wonderful fresh flavors and an old favorite in one pan and in 1 ½ hours all told – minus of course, that dry chilling time in the fridge. Here is the recipe.
Smoky Paprika Chicken with Crispy Chickpeas, Roasted Lemon and Baby Spinach
A weeknight one-pan Crispy-Skinned Roast Chicken on a savory bed of crispy chickpeas, meyer lemons and tender spinach or kale
- One 4½-to-5-pound chicken, patted dry with paper towels
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- Small bunch mixed fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme and sage)
- 1 Meyer lemon, halved lengthwise
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 6 cups baby spinach or kale
- Step 1 Place the dry chicken on an aluminum foil-covered sheet pan and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, to let the seasoning sink in and the skin firm up for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- Step 2 Preheat the oven to 450°. Stuff the cavity with the small bunch of herbs and truss the legs. Place in the oven and roast until the skin just begins to brown, 30 minutes.
- Step 3 Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Slice one of the lemon halves lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise to make small wedges. Add to the water and boil until softened to remove any bitterness, 1 minute. Drain and transfer to a medium bowl.
- Step 4 To the lemon slices, add the chickpeas, olive oil, both paprikas and a large pinch of salt.
- Step 5 Remove the chicken from the oven and baste with any juices that have begun to collect in the pan. Scatter the chickpea mixture around the chicken and return to the oven to cook until the chickpeas are crispy and the chicken is golden brown and has an internal temperature of 165° when inserted into the thigh with an instant-read thermometer, 20 to 25 minutes more.
- Step 6 Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, add the spinach or kale to the hot pan and toss with the chickpeas until wilted. Squeeze the remaining lemon half on top and season with salt and pepper.
- Step 7 Divide the chickpea mixture between plates, then top with carved chicken and serve.