Portuguese Roasted Chicken with Potatoes

There’s really not much to this dish, matter of fact, in the book the author dubs it “Quick Weekday Roast Chicken with Potatoes”. So it is easy enough that it can be made during the week for supper. I’ve made this many times since I first tested it out for the book and it never ceases to jolt my senses by how delicious it is. The book I am talking about here is David Leite’s wonderful “The New Portuguese Table” and the stuff that makes this chicken so good is the “amped-up red pepper paste”. That paste is tart, with a deep tomato flavor, lots of different types of paprika, fragrant with cilantro and certainly pretty garlicky. It makes one of hell of a tasty tray of  baked chicken wings and a great rub for pork as well.

When I make the recipe now I do deviate slightly from the instructions. I like to salt the chicken well the night before (something I do with all meat if I can) or at least for 4-5 hours before I roast it. This salt treatment makes any meat taste better and I first started doing it a long time ago based on Judy Rodgers’ method in her classic “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook“. The salt draws out the water, very lightly cures the meat and actually makes it more flavorful and juicy. The other deviation is how I treat the potatoes. Leite puts them in with the chicken raw, I prefer to boil them or steam them first. They seem to soak in more of the cooking juices and of the paste as they roast alongside the chicken. On top of that they also crisp up better.