If you follow food at all you probably know David Lebovitz, the former Chez Panisse pastry chef turned biggest-of-the-bigtime blogger. Started as an adjunct to his cookbook writing, DavidLebovitz.com is an essential online stop, full of recipes, ingredients, travel, and great photos, all framed in Lebovitz’ friendly (but def not saccharine) prose.
I guess you can tell I’m a fan. His “The Perfect Scoop” (Ten Speed Press, 2007) ice cream masterpiece is one of the most-used cookbooks in my collection, and after reading “The Sweet Life in Paris” (Broadway Books, 2009), about his move to the French capital, I thought—hoped!—there’d be more to that story.
And so there is: “My Paris Kitchen” (Ten Speed Press, 2014) is a big, juicy book chockablock with recipes for both his stock-in-trade desserts and the super savory. But it’s also stocked with stories, and with Lebovitz, it’s kind of hard to choose which is better—I was sucked in immediately by the introduction’s tale of a kitchen sink.
Take the Chicken lady, story and recipe. I defy anyone to read Lebovitz’ description of the rotisserie birds from the Sunday Bastille market in Paris and not immediately crave a taste of that crisp skin with its special marinade. After making it the first time at home, we’ve had it every week since. The recipe follows—see if the same thing happens to you. The chicken is spatchcocked—butterflied—for even cooking and easy carving (here’s a Martha Stewart video of the technique) which is perfect for a petite bird from Temecula’s La Bahn Ranch. You can find La Bahn at the Saturday Irvine or Thursday Costa Mesa farmers markets—their eggs are fab, too. But I’ve also done halves with a larger Rocky chicken from my local supermarket.
Chicken Lady Chicken from David Lebovitz
Catherine (the chicken lady) gave me a few clues to how she prepares her birds, and this is a very close approximation. If you have an outdoor grill, by all means use it, weighing down the chicken with a brick until the skin side is nice and crispy, before flipping it over. For the best flavor, marinate the chicken for one or two days before cooking.—David Lebovitz
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 ½ teaspoons sea or kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 ½ teaspoons harissa, Sriracha, or Asian chile paste
2 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 chicken, spatchcocked
Put garlic and salt in large, sturdy, resealable plastic bag and crush with the heel of your hand to make a paste. Add olive oil, lemon juice, white wine, soy sauce, harissa or chile sauce, mustard, and honey to the bag, combining ingredients well.
Loosen chicken skin from breast and thigh meat and spoon some marinade under skin. Put chicken in bag, close securely, and use your hands to rub marinade into chicken. Refridgerate for 1 or 2 days, flipping bag over a few times as it marinates.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat on stovetop and place chicken in it breast side down. Drape sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil over chicken and set heavy weight on top. (A good option is a brick or large saucepan filled with water.)
Cook chicken until skin is deep golden brown, about 10 minutes—check often. When browned, flip over, replace foil and weight, and cook 5 more minutes.
Remove weight and foil and cook chicken in pan in oven for 25 minutes (or about 45 for larger birds), until cooked through.