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Pimentón Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

This is what I made for Thanksgiving dinner. It was one of the best recipes I discovered this year, and it seemed perfect for the holiday. I think it would be equally perfect for a Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Years celebrations. Consider it my gift to you, dear reader. The gift of a perfectly roasted paprika and garlic rubbed chicken that cooks on a bed of potato wedges that benefit from chicken fat and high temperatures. When it is done, you have chicken and potatoes and only need a hearty green salad to accompany them. You also have an astonishingly simple and delicious meal. Honestly, this is about as good as it gets. I’ve made this recipe twice already and am giving it another go this weekend. Consider me obsessed.

The secrets of this recipe are in the details, so make substitutions at your own risk. I think Yukon Golds were made for this recipe, and I love them roasted more than people say I should. It is a pain to track down two kinds of paprika- but since you will likely want to make this again it is worth the effort. I think the chicken should sit overnight in the fridge to really develop flavor, but 5 or 6 hours will do in a pinch. On my second go around, I increased the potato quantities because they are just so, so good. I suggest you do the same by including an extra potato or two.

Unrelated: Some of you noticed already, but I have been writing an occasional column for Saveur on cookbooks. You know how much I love cookbooks, so it is a real treat to have a forum for discussing some older, stranger and out-of-print titles. I hope you’ll visit me over at Saveur and check out great books like Lee Bailey’s Country Weekends [1] and the French Farm House Cookbook [2].

Pimentón Roast Chicken and Potatoes (adapted from David Tanis via Bon Appetit [3])

For chickens:

For potatoes:

Rinse and VERY thoroughly dry chickens. Mix garlic, salt, oil, and both paprikas in a small bowl; mix to blend well. Using your hands, smear paste all over outside of chickens, rubbing to coat the skin. It will be clumpy, don’t worry. Place 1 bunch of thyme inside the cavity of each bird. Chill, uncovered, for at least 6 hours or overnight (for more flavor).

Let chickens stand at room temperature for 1 hour. If paste has clumped, rub to evenly distribute. Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then lengthwise into 4 thick wedges (steak-fry style). Place in a large bowl; season generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle in oil and, using your hands, toss well to coat. Spread potatoes in a single layer in a large roasting pan or on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 500°F. Place chickens side by side atop potatoes in roasting pan.

Roast chickens and potatoes for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; turn potatoes, rearranging chickens if needed. Reduce oven heat to 425°F. Continue roasting chickens and potatoes until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thighs registers 165° F, 20-35 minutes longer. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving chicken. Keep potatoes warm in oven until chicken is carved and ready to be served.

Transfer potatoes to 1–2 platters; sprinkle with parsley and scallions. Arrange chickens on top of potatoes. Dust lightly with smoked paprika.

Serves: 8

***I trussed the chicken in these photos, which was my first attempt. I don’t think these should be trussed, I think it slowed down the cooking. Don’t bother.

***The skin charred a little both times I made this, but the chickens remained really moist and flavorful. So, no worries- and I liked the dark skin.If your skin starts to get too black for your own taste, you can cover it loosely with foil.

***If the potatoes are getting too dark (you want them a little dark, those are my favorite parts), you can transfer the chickens to their own pan to finish cooking them.