Paul Simon’s Rock Chicken with Buttery Carrots and Mashed Potatoes
From Kevin Kent
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme was about cooking chicken, not some small town fair. Now you know. Did I mention you get to open dinner at the table with an axe or a hammer? How much fun is that?
- 5 lbs. all-purpose flour
- 6 c. cold water
- 1 5-lb. fresh chicken
- 1 bunch EACH fresh parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the flour into a bowl and gradually add the cold water, stirring continuously, until combined. Then, use your hands to knead the dough until soft and stretchy. Set aside and let rest for 20 minutes.
Grab your chicken from the fridge and stick the herbs into the cavity. Nothing tricky, just stick them in. Salt and pepper the skin – a bit more than you would usually do is probably a good idea. Tuck the wing tips under the wings of the bird so they don’t poke out.
When the dough is rested, roll it out to an oval about 16 inches across. Plop the chicken onto the middle of the oval and bring the dough up around the sides. Make a seam across the top of the bird to completely enclose it. Now you have a nicely wrapped chicken. Make sure the dough is sealed and covers all parts of the chicken. It will look like a giant gyoza.
Carefully place the “giant gyoza” in a roasting pan and pop it into the hot oven. Bake for 1 hour 40 minutes. For a 5-lb. bird, this is the magic amount of time to have a lovely, perfectly cooked bird at this oven temperature.
Remove from the oven and set the chicken in the roasting pan aside for a 30-minute rest. The bird will finish cooking during this time, and it gives you time to finish the rest of the cooking or to have another cocktail. Or both.
When you’re ready to eat, bring the parcel to the table in the roasting pan and bring a small axe or hammer, too. Use the axe or hammer to gently crack open the “rock” to reveal a wonderfully moist chicken inside. Once opened, carve the chicken as if it was a turkey. A 6-inch utility knife is perfect for carving chicken. The one I use is a Masakage Kiri, hand-hammered by Kato-san of Takefu Village in Japan.
Serve with buttery carrots and your favourite mashed potato recipe. Put them both in fancy bowls to feel festive. My mother-in-law has a great bowl from the ‘30s that I like for carrots.
It’s true that everyone loves carrots and everyone loves butter. I love this recipe because I get to cut lots of carrots into thin little coins and that’s fun for me.
- 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 c.)
- 1-1/2 lbs. carrots
If the carrots have nice fresh skins, don’t bother peeling them. But if they need peeling you’d better do it or your aunt (you know the one I’m talking about) will tut-tut about it.
Here’s the fun part. Grab your favourite sharp kitchen knife. I like a 10-inch Gyuto knife made by Fujiwara-san. Slice all of the carrots into thin slices. As thin as you can. See? Fun… and a bit scary maybe.
Grab a heavy-bottomed pot and drop the butter in to melt on low heat. Now, add the carrots to the pan and put the lid on. Stir every 7 minutes.
The carrots will cook gently in the massive amount of butter and soak up some of the butter. Test them every time you stir; it may take 15-30 minutes to finish cooking, depending on how low the heat is. You will know the carrots are done when they are soft. They will have a buttery carroty sauce too. These really are a massive improvement on boring boiled carrots. You can make them ahead of time and keep in a warm place.
Peel and cut enough large potatoes to feed your guests, then peel and cut two more for insurance – you don’t want to run out of mash. Put the potatoes in a heavy-bottomed pot and cover with water. Add enough salt so the water tastes slightly of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer gently until the potatoes are soft. You do not want al dente potatoes. Soft. Then strain them and let them dry in the strainer for 4 minutes. Mash with plenty of butter and milk. Yum.