Bonjour from confinement chez moi,
If you’re not up to date, I left Europe last week and flew back to my hometown in Ohio to be near my parents. It was an impossibly hard decision to make, that involved canceled flights, and zero sleep, and a mild anxiety attack at Heathrow airport. I finally got on a flight last Tuesday, and thankfully it was empty. I had the entire business class section to myself, like a bizarre, private jet.
I’m currently in quarantine a few doors down from where my parents live until I know it’s safe to them join in their lake house. I can walk over and wave at them through the windows, so I usually do that once a day for exercise.
I’m adjusting to life totally solo, desperately missing Paris, and trying to be positive through everything happening. I’m keeping up with my friends there, still practicing French every day, and playing so much bistro-inspired music that sometimes I feel like I’m still there. I’m also looking into purchasing a giant Eiffel Tower statue to get me through this. If you know where I can get one, slide into my DMs, please.
I was, of course, worried about being exposed to something while making the trip back to Ohio, but a week in I feel okay. In some ways, I actually feel healthier than I have in a long time. I’ve been sleeping 8+ hours a night, exercising every day, getting my to-do list done daily, and not drinking a sip of alcohol. I know – it’s mental. We’ve had to give up everything, why would I also give up champagne? Honestly, I think my body needed it. My tormented limbo in London was essentially brought to you by bubbles. And also, I’ve become a bit of a natural wine snob, and you can’t find it around here. C’est la vie.
But at the end of last week, I realized one big problem: I was spending all day in either leggings or pajamas. While every once in a weekend, that feels fantastic to live in loungewear – when it becomes the new norm, you just feel lazy. Also, how are you supposed to realize if your clothes are getting too tight if you no longer wear them? In Paris, you get dressed every day. Even if you’re just going to Maison Plisson to get more cornichons, you put on an outfit. I decided if I am going to stay French, I needed to stay dressed.
I also realized eating solo every day meant “real” meals were in danger. Dinner could become a candy bar, or a jar of PB and a spoon because no one was going to know about it. In Paris, it was R&D to go to the city’s most charming and authentic restaurants. I dined solo on three-course dinners of escargot, steak tartare, and chocolate mousse on the regular.
So, I decided in an effort to try to be French, and chic, and refined – I would start the Stay-In Saturday Supper Club. Consider this your official invitation to join me.
Here are the rules: every Saturday, you have to get dressed up like you are going out. Put on makeup, and perfume, do your hair. Then make yourself a cocktail, or pour yourself some wine, and cook yourself a fantastic meal.
I’m using these meals as escapes from reality; little trips around the world to make me feel normal! I’m going to be attempting some favorite dishes I’ve eaten around the world and some old nostalgic family recipes for a trip down memory lane.
Because I miss Paris every waking moment and don’t want to lose the skills I learned in my cooking classes, I started last weekend with a trip to Paris: poulet rôti, crispy French fingerling potatoes, and salade verte! I’ll share the cooking process in my story each Saturday night, and the recipe exclusively here!
I remember before I ever visited France, I watched an episode of Paula Dean where she walked around Paris, just eating. She stopped outside a boucherie, and the camera went to the chickens, roasting hypnotically, their buttery drippings falling on a sea of potatoes. It looked like the BEST thing I’d ever seen. I don’t actually eat chicken, but I eat poulet roti in France. Lots of it. So I wanted a taste of home. I don’t have a massive rotisserie, so I had to go for the oven-roasted version.
For a side dish – I already learned the secret to crispy, French fingerlings that taste like a solid stick of butter. Seemingly so simple, but I’d try to make them myself, but it never quite worked. I needed the French secret, and I learned it in cooking class from an amazing, authentic French chef that I had planned on convincing to be my best friend pre-corona.
I’m going to share it in my newsletter because I love you. And we all need buttery potatoes in our life right now!
The other simplest of French things that is amazing is their dressing. Creamy, french vinaigrette. Anyone who has had a side salad in France knows – it’s otherworldly. Mastering this was essential in my quest to become a Parisian. Again, I’d tried this at home – but it didn’t taste the same, it wasn’t creamy. Why? Because I was missing the secret ingredient.
Luckily, these three recipes combine into the perfect meal. Protein, greens, carbs. Voila.
The other essential is, of course, French music. It must be playing while you cook. So cue up the soundtrack to Amelie or Midnight in Paris before you tie your apron.
I’m sharing the roast chicken recipe here. But the other recipes are family secrets from a French chef, so I’m only sharing those with my very favorite, most-trusted friends in my newsletter. You can sign up at the bottom of this page! I’ll be sharing all my weekly Stay-In Supper Club recipes there, and a lot of other top-secret things you don’t want to miss.
Whole Chicken – splurge on the best quality you can find here. It’s worth it.
Herbs de Provence – You can find this if you look a bit. I especially like it when it involves lavender.
1-2 Lemons (depending on the size of the chicken)
1-2 Yellow Onions
Tons of salted BUTTER. If you can French butter, all the better. If not, shed some tears and make do with what you have.
*Where’s the garlic, you may ask? It’s omitted.
Why? Because some chefs, myself included, believe garlic should never be cooked with. Anything you cook with garlic just ends up tasting like pure garlic, and you smell like garlic after eating it. How are you supposed to make out after dinner with your handsome, French, boyfriend when you stink of garlic?
Resist adding it. I promise you’ll thank me when you’re being dramatically kissed on the Pont des Arts.
So now that’s settled, let’s get started…
How to Cook This Thing:
First, pat your chicken dry with paper towels.
Then quarter the lemons and yellow onion, and stuff your chicken’s empty middle with as many of the wedges as you possibly can.
Take the fresh thyme, and put a handful of sprigs inside the middle too.
Next, take two fingers and run them along the opening of the bird until you can get them up under the skin. This may take a minute to find, but you’ll get there. (I am suddenly aware of how sexual prepping a chicken sounds, but what can be done about it?)
In that space in between the skin and meat, insert thin slices of butter. This is crucial to the chicken being tasty and buttery. Get as much up there on both sides as you can.
Now, it’s time to give him a butter massage. Rub that bird down thick with butter, don’t miss an inch.
Take your herbs de Provence, smell them for a minute because gosh, it’s amazing, and sprinkle them on top . Add coarse salt and pepper if you wish.
Any remaining onions, lemons, and carrots can go around the chicken in the pan.
Easy breezy, non?
Get a dish of melted butter ready on the side with your baster.
Cook the chicken for the first 20 minutes on the lowest rack at 425F, and then reduce the oven to 400F, move him up a rack and finish cooking there. Every 20 minutes you are going to open the oven, and give him a bath in melted butter. This is going to make the skin crispy and beautiful.
Cooking time depends on the weight, but figure about 20 minutes for every 1lb. If you have a meat thermometer, that’s the best way to know when he’s done.
When it’s ready, take it out and let it rest a moment before carving. This is where you take photos, applaud yourself, and admire how beautiful your meal turned out.
Want the recipe for crispy fingerlings and french vinaigrette? Sign up for the newsletter and they are yours baby.
See you next Saturday in Instastories!