Dinner at Home

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Guest at the Table: L. J. LaBarthe, Author of The Wind-Up Forest

Hello! I'm L. J. LaBarthe. I'm from Australia, and we've just come out of the first heat wave of this summer—it was a very long week with astoundingly high temperatures, the worst day was 115F (46C). I'm glad it's over, and the weather has been lovely since, perfect weather for the following recipe!

The chicken and potatoes recipe below is a family tradition. My father was a cordon bleu chef in his younger years, and this was my favorite roast dinner of all the sorts of roasts that he made. I remember that when I was sick, recovering from a nasty flu or recovering from surgery, my dad would bring me these roast chicken and potatoes, heat them up in my oven, and then chuckle as I almost inhaled the lot. It may seem like a simple thing—a roast chicken and potatoes, but believe me, this is probably the most deliciously decadent roast you will ever eat. 

That's because of the amount of butter and garlic, and so it's probably best to save this for special 
occasions. Trust me, you won't regret it. If you do try this out, I hope you do enjoy it as much as 
I—and the guests I've cooked this for—do. 

In my novel, The Wind-Up Forest, Archangels Michael and Gabriel pay a visit to a computer genius/hacker named Max and his partner, Minnie, a witch. Minnie also loves to cook and asks Michael and Gabriel to stay for dinner; alas, things are such in the world of the book that they have to decline, but they promise to visit for a meal as soon as they are able to. 

Poulet rôti et pommes de terre paysanne
(Peasant style roast chicken and potatoes)

Part One - Potatoes
1kg baby potatoes, peeled. (OR small potatoes, peeled and cubed).
1 bunch curly leaf parsley.
125g unsalted butter.
Salt and pepper.
1/2 head garlic cloves, peeled and crushed.
Olive oil.

Par-boil your potatoes, then drain well and set aside to dry. You want them to still be warm, but not damp. When they're dry to touch, melt the butter in a deep fry pan, add 5 tablespoons olive oil and when the mix starts to pop, add the potatoes.

Toss well through the butter and oil mix. Add garlic, and cook until the potatoes brown and go crisp. Toss in the parsley which has been minced in a herb mill, salt and pepper to taste.

When everything is coated in butter, garlic, salt, pepper and parsley, remove from heat and set
aside for part three.

Part Two - Chicken
1 good quality chicken, skin on.
1 1/2 heads of garlic.
125g unsalted butter.
Salt and pepper.
1 lemon.
Olive oil.

Pat your chicken dry after washing out the cavity. Once it's clean and dry, stuff one full head of garlic into the cavity, taking off the outer skins of the garlic first. Cut the lemon in half and stuff one half into the cavity with the garlic. Make sure to remove the neck, if there's one there. Some butchers take that out, some don't. Tie the legs together with twine, if you have it, otherwise don't stress about that.

Pour some olive oil over the chicken and rub it over the bird thoroughly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Grease a baking/roasting dish with the butter (unmelted), and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon into the pan, and add the remainder of the garlic cloves, once they have been peeled and halved. Stir it all around to make sure that the whole bottom of the pan is covered. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper, stir again. Chop up the remaining butter roughly, and place it into the pan.

Place the bird into the pan, then into a hot oven. Roast at 180oC/350oF. Cooking times depend on the weight of the bird, so this is a good guide:
20 minutes per 1 pound / 450g. So if you have a 2kg / 4.5 pound chicken, roast it for 1 1/
2 hours. OR until the juices run clear when the meat is pricked with a fork. You do NOT want to
undercook a chicken.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and turn the heat right down. Move to part three.

Part Three - Putting it all together

Put your cooked potatoes into the pan with the chicken. Sprinkle in some more parsley, over the bird as well as the potatoes. Toss around through the pan juices as best you can, without burning yourself! Return to the warm oven with the heat on low for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes is up, remove from oven. Switch oven off. Snip the twine that's bound the legs and remove. Remove the garlic from the cavity and squeeze the cloves out of the skins and stir them into the pan juices. Allow bird and potatoes to stand for 15 minutes, then carve the bird and serve with the potatoes and pan juices spooned over the top.

The Wind-Up Forest by L. J. LaBarthe.
Book four in The Archangel Chronicles

Archangel Gabriel is hoping for a quiet period in his life to enjoy his relationship with Archangel Michael, but someone has other ideas.

New dangers arise when the Holy Grail is stolen. Gabriel, Michael, and the rest of the Brotherhood of Archangels and their allies must somehow thwart the twisted desires of the thief. Their search for the Grail takes them all over the world, calling on old friends like Uriel and Raziel, and forging powerful new alliances. Though they face a fresh set of perils in pursuit of the thief, the enduring comfort Gabriel needs so much, that of his beloved Michael, never abandons him.

“I reckon we need to keep every single angel on alert,” Gabriel said. “So, I want to put this job into the hands of someone just as capable who ain’t an angel.”


Gabriel grinned. “No Hands Minnie is a witch. Her partner, Max, who goes by the name Mobius on the Internet, is one of the world’s best hackers. If it’s in cyberspace, he’ll find it. And when he finds it, No Hands Minnie will use a spell to keep it safe until we see it.”

“Why is she called No Hands?” Michael asked. “Has she in truth no hands?”

Gabriel laughed. “No, she’s got hands. The nickname stuck—she used to be a thief. A damn good one, too. Max was hired to catch her, actually. One thing led to another, and now they’re together, living on the south coast of Australia, and shrouding their little technological paradise inside a natural paradise.”

“I see.” Michael hummed. “Will they help us, do you think?”

Gabriel nodded. “Aye, I reckon. Max is a good lad. And he likes solving mysteries, and this is a bloody huge mystery. Minnie’s just as curious as he is, so the two of ’em make a damn good pair. Plus, she cooks a great chicken roast, so we should get a nice lunch while we’re there.”

Michael chuckled. “Ah, I see. We go to visit them to eat their food and ask their help.”

“If we didn’t eat their food, she’d think she’d lost her touch with herbs and spices.” Gabriel grinned.
“All right, then we shall go and see them. I think you are right—it would be wise to keep angelkind on alert for things that only we can do. If these two humans—the witch and the hacker—can do what Sophiel and Brieus did with the Internet, then I feel this is a good solution.”

“Awesome.” Gabriel stopped walking and turned to face his lover. “Now, can I have a kiss?”

Michael smiled. “You may.”

“Even more awesome.” Gabriel closed the small distance between them and cupped Michael’s face in his hands and kissed him.

Kissing Michael like this, holding him close, with nothing to disturb the moment, was bliss. Gabriel sighed contentedly into the kiss, running his fingers up and down the length of Michael’s spine, humming as Michael’s fingers ghosted over his wing joints.

“We don’t have time for that,” Gabriel thought to his lover.

Michael moved his hands. “I know. We should go, then.”

“Aye.” Gabriel ended the kiss and rested his forehead against Michael’s. “We’ll be able to get some us time soon.”

“I hope so.” Michael huffed. “I wish to spend more time together.”

“So do I.” Gabriel kissed the tip of Michael’s nose and laughed as Michael wrinkled it in response. “Let’s go delegate responsibility, then go to Armenia.”

Michael stepped back and slipped his hand into Gabriel’s. “As you say.”

Earlier books in The Archangel Chronicles

If readers are interested, I talk about my books, food, movies and much more on my blog,
Facebook and Twitter, and my website has more details about my books. Those links are:
Blog   Facebook    Twitter   Website

No comments:

Post a Comment