What do you do when you see a recipe on TV and it looks amazing? If you’re like me, you spend a Tuesday night trying to duplicate the dish.
Geechee Girl Chicken
This recipe is based on an episode of Triple-D, featuring the Geechee Girl Rice Cafe. It’s Chef Valerie Erwin’s version of a North African roasted chicken. It features copious amounts of cumin, oregano and garlic. The chicken is rubbed with these spices, salt and pepper then browned in olive oil and placed in a roasting pan. Chef Erwin then sautes orange and lemon peels in the pan drippings and deglazes the pan with water and citrus juice. The citrus juice goes into the roasting pan and the pan goes into a 500° F oven for an hour.
The result is not what you’d expect. With all those really strong spices, you’d think this dish would be overpowered by cumin and garlic. It isn’t. Through the alchemy of the oven, those spices mellow out nicely. The dominate flavors are the chicken itself and the citrus. The cumin, oregano and garlic provide a subtle backdrop to those flavors. The meat is very moist and tender. Despite being braised in citrus, the skin is crispy.
It’s a surprising dish. I’ve never had chicken like this before. Next time I’m in Philly, I’m making a side trip to Mt. Airy to try the real thing.
Recipe – Serves 4
All measurements are approximate. I watched the Triple-D segment several times, guessing at the amounts Chef Erwin was using. The dish doesn’t seem to be super sensitive to exact amounts, so go ahead and wing it.
1/4 cup cumin
1/4 cup dried oregano
1 TBS kosher salt
2 TBS ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 young chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, quartered
Preheat oven to 500° F with rack in center position.
Squeeze oranges and lemons. Reserve juice. Cut peel into quarters and reserve.
In a small bowl, mix cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir in enough olive oil to make a thick paste. Add garlic and mix thoroughly.
Rub chicken with paste, working paste into meat and skin.
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 2 TBS of olive oil. Brown chicken on both sides for about two minutes.
Transfer chicken to a 13″ x 9″ roasting pan, skin side up.
Add reserved citrus peels to skillet and saute for 2 minutes. Stirring occasionally. This will release a ton of flavorful oils from the peels.
Transfer peels to roasting pan. Spread evenly across the chicken.
Deglaze skillet with citrus juice and a little water. Transfer deglazing liquid to roasting pan. There should be enough to cover the chicken about half way.
Place chicken in oven. Roast for 1 hour.
To serve, pour a couple TBS of the pan juices over each piece of chicken.
Smashed Roasted Potatoes
I subscribe to the Cook’s Illustrated pay site. They have a lot of great recipes, videos, product reviews and tutorials on techniques. For some one trying to up his game, it’s worth the $3 a month.
Every day they send me recipe recommendations. One of last week’s suggestions was for baby red potatoes that had been oven roasted, then smashed flat, covered with olive oil and returned to the oven and baked till they had a crunchy fried texture. When this one hit my inbox, I was already planning on making the Geechee Girl chicken. I thought this would pair nicely with that dish.
They turned out great. Soft, fluffy centers with a crunchy exterior. One warning, serve them immediately. They don’t hold or refrigerate well. As they cool, they lose the contrast between soft and crunchy and just get tough.
Recipe – Serves 4 to 6
2 lbs baby red potatoes
ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 500° F with racks in the lower and upper positions.
Wash and dry potatoes. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place potatoes on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Add 3/4 cup of water and seal tightly with foil.
Place potatoes on the lower rack and bake until potatoes are tender through, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes.
Wipe baking sheet dry and add 3 TBS olive oil. Roll potatoes to coat.
Gently smash potatoes, one at a time. Try to get a nice circle about 1/3″ to 1/2″ thick. In the Cook’s Illustrated video, they used a potato masher for this. That made sense, but when I tried it, it didn’t work that well. They had a “waffle” type masher. I have a “squiggle” type. It didn’t give me a nice even smash.
I ended up using the bottom of a small drinking glass. That worked fine.
Drizzle 3 more TBS of olive oil across the smashed potatoes and add more salt and pepper to taste.
Place potatoes on top rack of oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Move potatoes to bottom rack and continue to bake until the potatoes have a crispy, fried texture. About 20 to 30 minutes. Be careful not to burn the bottom of the potatoes.
The second time I made these potatoes, I transferred them from the rimmed sheet to an insulated sheet for the last 20 to 30 minutes in the oven. That prevented burned bottoms, but meant one more pan to wash.
Remove from oven and server immediately.