The Recipe: Roast

There was no evidence of volcanic activity simmering beneath my surface yesterday. In fact, I could have easily stayed on the couch pondering the possibility of lifting an arm close enough to the paper to turn a page. No matter if you point a family in the direction of cereal boxes for breakfast and Found Food for lunch, at dinnertime, it’s time for dinner. They rise up like a synchronized swim team looking for something assembled and hot. I figured I should move on it early. The best thing to do in these situations is to make something that’s going to hold and anybody can put together once it’s done. That way, if the bed calls you home before 7 say, you’re covered. I cut up new potatoes with thin skins and tossed them with olive oil and salt. They went on the left of the sheet pan. Down the middle, thin wedges of shallots, tossed the same. On the right, peeled red beets, cut into wedges same as the shallots, tossed with olive oil and kosher salt, same as the shallots, same as the potatoes. No need to think, just set the oven to 425 and set the sheet pan in there with the timer on for 30 minutes. If it’s not all caramelized and tender the way it should be, give it another ten. Meanwhile, get out out a cake pan. Give it a little spill of olive oil and a few more roughly chopped shallots, a few whole cloves of garlic (no need to chop), a whole sprig of parsley and a few sprigs of that fresh thyme I know you have growing on your window sill. Unwrap a skinless whole chicken breast on the bone. Season it with kosher salt all over and give it a grind of pepper. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a cup and whisk in a few teaspoons of dijon mustard with a fork. Spread this all over the top of the breast and set the breast onto your bed of shallots and garlic. Drop a few more thyme sprigs and few more halved cloves of garlic over the top, and set it in the same oven with the vegetables until it is no longer pink close to the bone, but just. Make a mustard vinaigrette by putting a teaspoon of dijon in a jar, a drop of pure maple syrup, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a swoosh of red wine vinegar. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a grind of pepper. Lid on, and shake. Whenever the people are ready to eat, shred the chicken, toss leaves of arugula, fresh basil, chive and parsley with the vinaigrette and taste for salt. Toss loosely, the roasted vegetables with the chicken and the greens. That’s it. At anytime. Write a note that they should leave some for you in case you wake up hungry in the middle of the night.

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