In 1953 George Marshall directed superstars Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh in Hollywood’s telling of the Harry Houdini story. I wasn’t around in 1953 but in the 1970s, when I was growing up, it was my favorite movie after having caught it on the late, late show some Friday or Saturday night. I had a handful of other favorite classic movies befitting of a boy enamored with magic, monsters, and adventure. Each week I read through the TV listing hoping one of them would be playing.
Before the days of Netflix, DVRs, Blockbuster, or even VHS recorders this was the way it was when it came to television. You had to catch things when they were on. If you missed a TV show episode you had to hope it would be on summer reruns and when it came to favorite movies, you either went through the TV guide like I did or you caught it by chance when scanning the channels.
As much as I love Netflix and my collection of DVDs, which includes a copy of Houdini, I miss the simple thrill that would come when, usually once a year, a favorite was on. Back in the day, that excitement over something that could come and go quickly was also present on our family’s dinner table. Strawberry shortcake, watermelon, and sweet corn, were like my Houdini movie. Catch them now or it will be a long wait before you see them again.
To a previous generation the modern-day supermarket would be no less a marvel than the DVR. Those of us, however, who have tasted both grocery store sweet corn in November and Indiana sweet corn straight from the farmer’s field, know there’s no comparison. The real thing, you just have to wait for. A visit to the farmer’s market brings back that sense of anticipation, seeing week to week what’s there, finding both long-time favorites and newly-discovering new ones as well.
Here is a recipe that takes advantage of some of the early offerings you will find at your local farmer’s market. For roast chicken with vegetables you don’t have to wait for the traditional veggies and herbs that come later in the season you can use what’s ready now. Radishes, for instance are wonderful when roasted. They get sweeter as the sugar’s concentrate. The same goes for the green onions. Garnish this dish with fresh chives instead of heartier rosemary or thyme gives it a bright, summertime finish. If you are lucky, you may be able to also pick up the chicken at your market.
With our own farmer’s markets in full swing, I’m hoping you are a regular like me. If not, visit once and you might become one. One word of warning: once you experience local in-season versions of what you find in the produce section year round, you’ll be left wanting for about 50 weeks a year, but when that favorite comes around again, the long wait will be worth it.
Roast Chicken with Farmers’ Market Vegetables
- 4 chicken quarters (all white, all dark, or mixed)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound small potatoes, washed
- 2 bunches radishes, washed cut in half
- 1 bunch green onions, washed and trimmed
- 1 bunch baby carrots, washed and greens removed
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1 lemon, halved
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper, then place skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Drizzle with oil and roast 15 minutes.
As chicken is roasting cut the potatoes and radishes in half and cut the scallions into thirds. Toss the potatoes, radishes, carrots and the remaining olive oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Remove the chicken from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375. Add the vegetables to the baking sheet, positioning them around the chicken pie. Continue to roast until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is golden and cooked through, registering 165 on a probe thermometer for white meat or 175 for dark. This will likely take about 30 more minutes. Move chicken and vegetables to a platter, squeeze the lemon over the chicken and vegetables top with the chives and serve. Serves about four adults.
Adapted from a a column originally published in B Magazine, June 2014