When we were in New York City for our honeymoon, we felt most at home in chef Jonathan Waxman’s neighborhood hang-out Barbuto. It was early spring, the garage doors/walls were open, the sidewalk tables were buzzing and we had a prime spot watching the kitchen masterfully make the most simple, delicious Italian food we’ve ever eaten. When we got home, K couldn’t resist buying Waxman’s “Italian, My Way” cookbook. After much anticipation, it was finally the night to do roasted chicken a la Barbuto.
During our Barbuto excursion, we also had incredibly crispy and savory rosemary potatoes, but that recipe isn’t in the cookbook so we decided to wing it. I cut up small Yukon gold potatoes into evenly sized pieces, coated them with olive oil, sprinkled salt liberally, grated some Parmesan cheese on top and threw bunches of garden fresh rosemary over everything. They looked good and I could only hope they’d achieve the same crispy state of the potatoes we enjoyed that April evening.
We had what we *thought* was a whole chicken from a farm in southern Minnesota. The instructions in the recipe say to wash and dry the bird, cut out the backbone and breastbone and remove — essentially cutting the chicken in half. However, our chicken was already pieced. There was no backbone so I pulled the meat off the breastbone, which (because of the way it was cut) meant the teeny, tiny, sharp ribs went with it too. I knew no bones in the chicken breast would probably mean dry chicken, but what are you gonna do?
After cleaning the chicken and seasoning it with salt and pepper, it went into the cast iron pan with a little olive oil and some lemon.
Then the whole thing went into the oven at 450 degrees, potatoes on the top rack roasting right along with the chicken.
While the crackling chicken at Barbuto was fantastic, what really put it over the top was the salsa verde served liberally on top. In the cookbook recipe, Waxman says he keeps this on hand at all times as it’s good for fish, seafood, chicken, meat, pizza, pasta — anything. He’s right. Some capers, some anchovy paste (in place of the whole anchovies called for), garlic, parsley, arugula, basil, cilantro, tarragon, chives, sage, a dash of red pepper flake and some olive oil is all you need to create green magic. There was a lot of chopping and dicing, but by the time we were done the chicken was just about there.
We have a gas oven, Barbuto has a super-heated wood fired oven. We have a cast iron pan, the restaurant has “sizzle platters.” It took longer for our chicken to crisp up, our potatoes didn’t get as crispy as they were in the restaurant (I suspect Barbuto coated their potatoes with some unknown fairy dust before cooking) and the smoke alarm went off a few times (it got really hot because of the oven temp., probably not the *best* recipe for a summer evening), but when dinner was ready, it smelled heavenly.
The pieces of chicken with bones in them were moist and the skin was crispy. The boneless breast meat got a little bit dry (as suspected). That salsa verde was quite literally awesome sauce. The potatoes were evergreen with fragrant rosemary and had a nice crunch with a tenderness inside. It wasn’t the same meal we enjoyed at Barbuto, but it was damn fine food. And easy. Company worthy and easy to make ahead and throw in the oven, ready to be dinner just as your guests are sitting down. Perfect fall and winter comfort food and reason enough (among 148 other reasons) to buy the “Italian, My Way” cookbook. Or just wing it and put some chicken in a hot oven and throw some herbs together for a sauce.
Alterations: Used pieced chicken instead of cutting up a whole chicken, used anchovy paste instead of whole anchovies in the salsa verde.
Would we make this again? Yes. It’s perfect for grown-ups, kids, family dinners, picky eaters … everyone.