Everyone Needs a Go-To Roast Chicken Recipe—This One's for You
Santina's Ashley Eddie shows us that the classic weeknight dinner is easier than you think.
All photos by Farideh Sadeghin
In our cooking series Quickies, we invite chefs, bartenders, and other personalities in the world of food and drink who are serious hustlers to share their tips and tricks for preparing quick, creative after-work meals. Every dish featured in Quickies takes under 30 minutes to make, but without sacrificing any deliciousness—these are tried-and-tested recipes for the super-busy who also happen to have impeccable taste.
Ashley Eddie came early and she came prepared. The executive chef of Santina—the first female executive chef of a Major Food Group restaurant in nearly a decade—was waiting in the lobby with two totes full of ingredients almost a half hour ahead of schedule. Which is to say: she could have made this dish twice over in the time we'd allotted, and without opening a single cabinet in the MUNCHIES test kitchen.
A little peak behind the curtain at how the sausage is made here: When chefs come by to cook for us as part of these kitchen columns, we ask them for an ingredient list ahead of time. That way, everything can be purchased and prepped and ready to go when they get here. We're all busy, and we want to make things as easy as possible on the chefs who spend their days off with us. Eddie opted to bring all her own stuff—from knives to Morton's, like a one-woman traveling roast chicken waiting to happen. Just add 30 minutes and a little heat.
We ended up offering her our own, already-opened, sea salt, but seeing the entire process play out—from peeling the garlic to plating it all up—really emphasized just how quick and easy this dish is. We're talking less than an hour from getting in the door with your groceries to sitting down at the table to a dinner fit for a party. Which is why Eddie doesn't save it for a party, at all.
"I make it at home, or for my mom," she says. "I cooked a lot for my mom growing up." She made a lot of roast chicken over the years, but "it’s a little bit better now that I know what I’m doing."
Eddie starts by making a spice rub: salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, chopped rosemary, and a couple cloves of chopped garlic. She'll pat that, thickly enough that the bird becomes bright red, on the skin of a halved chicken that's been patted dry. (A halved chicken because it's the correct amount for eating alone with just enough leftovers for lunch the next day, and because it's easier to sear on the stovetop. If she were cooking a whole bird, she'd skip the sear and instead brown the skin in the oven at a higher heat at the start of roasting it.)
While this has been going on, a pot of water has come to a boil. Eddie tosses in a sprig of rosemary and a heavy sprinkle of salt along with a handful of halved potatoes. They'll blanch for about 3-4 minutes—which is just enough time to start sear the chicken, skin-side down in hot oil. This is the only part of the process that's really hands-on. It's key to give the final product not just gorgeous color but a crispy-skin crust that distinguishes it from your average dried-out chicken breast so Eddie presses down with a set of tongs to ensure a heavy and even sear.
MAKE THIS: Pan Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
Once the skin is browned, she pulls the chicken out, wipes the pan clean, adds more oil, garlic, chopped rosemary and thyme, and tosses the potatoes in for a sear of their own. When they start to get golden brown (and the kitchen smells so good from that garlic-and-herbs-in-oil situation everyone is desperate for lunch at 11:45 AM) Eddie puts the chicken half right on top of the potato pile in the skillet and pops the whole thing in the oven.
That could be basically it. The whole thing will roast for about half an hour—enough time to do the dishes or watch an old Friends rerun—until the internal temp reaches 165°F and then you'll have an one-skillet dinner (oh you want vegetables, too? Eddie suggests adding carrots along with the potatoes). But Eddie has a finishing touch to whip up. She chops parsley stems and mixes them with lemon zest and some more garlic for a gremolata. It's the sort of thing you don't usually bother with if you're cooking for yourself or your immediate family, but as Eddie explains, "This is an easy way to treat yourself." And the way it smells when the zest hits the hot chicken? It's well-worth the extra two minutes of work.
Eddie starts to carve up the chicken, but those of us in the kitchen simply couldn't wait and have already started snatching mouth-burning potatoes out of the skillet. They're so crispy and flavorful we don't even mind.