My recent trip to the farmers’ market confirmed my suspicions: Spring has well and truly arrived, at least in my neck of the woods (Southern California). With pleasure, I spied a collection of seasonal harbingers: Asparagus! Green garlic! Rhubarb! It didn’t take me long to envision a menu that would show them off.
Green garlic is another cause for celebration, with its distinct, fresh character that’s pungent but not overpowering. When it first comes to market, its stalks may resemble slim green onions. Some specimens will have already formed the beginnings of a bulb at the root end. But, once the outer layer is peeled, both green and white parts of the stalk can be used, either chopped or pounded in a mortar. (If you cannot find green garlic, a combination of scallion and garlic chives makes a reasonable substitute.)
To give the green garlic a space to shine, I picked up a few pounds of yellow-fleshed Yukon Gold spuds from my favorite potato vendor. (That stand has the colorful radishes, too.) Then, I bought a free-range chicken and hatched a plan. I stuffed the bird with a generous amount of green garlic and a large handful of rosemary, sage and thyme sprigs. I roasted the chicken over wedges of potato so that all the fragrant garlicky chicken drippings infused the potatoes with incredible flavor. Crisp and golden, they rival the best rotisserie-style potatoes, those glistening ones that sit beneath spit-roasted chickens at some butcher shops. The chicken, of course, ends up nicely perfumed, too. (As a bonus, the carcass can be tossed into a saucepan, covered with water and simmered to make a small amount of garlicky broth for future use.)
Roast Chicken With Green Garlic, Herbs and Potatoes
• 1 (3- to 4-pound) roasting chicken
• Salt and pepper
• 3 pounds medium yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
(about 8 potatoes)
• 4 to 6 green garlic stalks, or use a combination of scallion and garlic chives
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Handful of thyme, rosemary and sage sprigs
• 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Season chicken inside and out with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Peel the potatoes, cut them in half, then cut halves into 2 or 3 thick wedges. Boil potatoes for about 5 minutes, until barely done, then drain and cool.
As potatoes cool, peel outer layer of garlic stalks and cut off roots. Slice both tender white and green parts crosswise into thin rings, then sprinkle with salt and roughly chop to resemble “minced.” (You should have about 1 cup of chopped alliums, whether you use green garlic, or a combination of scallions and chives.) Transfer chopped garlic to a dish and cover with olive oil.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange potatoes on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Set the seasoned chicken on top of the potatoes. Tip the chicken up and transfer the garlic-oil mixture into the bird’s cavity, then place breast side down, with potatoes surrounding.
Take a generous handful of herb sprigs (stem-on) and stuff into the cavity.
Roast, uncovered, for about 1 hour until chicken is nicely browned and thigh juices run clear when probed with a paring knife. Remove chicken, tipping the inside juices onto the potatoes, and keep warm on a plate.
Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. Using a spatula, move the potatoes around the roasting pan, allowing juices to coat potatoes well. Return to oven to brown potatoes. Baste potatoes every 5 minutes for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are golden. Sprinkle with parsley. Carve bird and serve.
Total time: About 3 hours, serves 4-6.
After carving, the carcass can be tossed into a saucepan, covered with water and simmered to make a small amount of garlicky broth for future use.