Baby Chickens and Potatoes



Over coffee at Tino’s Edward pointed out that May 7 was the day World War II ended. He told me he was on a four-man patrol in Austria that day. “I was the first scout. We were climbing a hill, looking for a mortar that had been shelling us. I looked back over my shoulder and nobody is behind me—everyone is going down the hill! So I followed them. Back at the base they told us the war had ended. Everyone was elated. But we were in the town of Swaz, in Austria and there were rumors that a German SS guerrilla group called the Werewolves were prowling around. The locals were afraid they were going to attack, so our company surrounded the village in foxholes, one man per hole. I had the suicide mission: I had to guard a road with a 50-caliber machine gun on a tripod. It was a suicide mission because you had to stand up to fire. But I dug the hole down and place the tripod in it so I could kneel, and I knelt in that hole all night. I even fell asleep kneeling in that hole. That was the first night of armistice. That was 69 years ago today.”

In looking over my notes from Edward’s week of cooking I notice that contrary to popular notions of the way Italians eat, Ed and Elinor only have pasta once a week (this time he made tagliolini with frozen porcini mushrooms I sent him from Colorado last summer). More frequent foods are eggs (two times a week, once scrambled with asparagus, onions, and herbs and once poached on top of broiled asparagus), soup two times (beans with wild dandelions, chicken soup with rice), Fish two times (broiled split bass and ling baked on top of a stew of tomatoes, and onion), beef once (a grilled piece of fillet), salad or vegetables (mainly wild dandelion greens or asparagus) for every other meal. He prepares poultry only once a week, usually a baby D’Artagnan chicken, potatoes, and a vegetable on Sunday. This is a regular habit for Edward—the little chickens are the perfect size for them, though when Kevin and I eat them, I make two.

Baby Chickens with Rosemary
Serves 4

Save the carcasses to make chicken stock. Add them to a soup pot with onions (skin on), carrots, celery, bay leaf, herbs like thyme and parsley, and cover with about 2 inches of water. Boil for about 2 hours. Strain and defat. They will produce 2 pints of stock. Pints of chicken stock can be pressure canned for 20 minutes at 10/11 psi (for altitudes over 2,000 feet, 15 psi if using a weighted gauge, and an additional 1/2 psi per 1,000 feet if using a dial gauge.) They will produce about 1 quart of stock.

2 baby chickens or 2 game hens
1 lemon, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup red wine
6 large garlic cloves, skin on

  • Preheat the oven to 450F.
  • Stuff the chickens with a lemon half in each. Truss and season.
  • In a baking pan large enough to fit both chickens snugly, breasts up, sprinkle the garlic and rosemary over the chickens. Add the olive oil and red wine, and distribute the garlic cloves around the chickens.
  • Roast for 45 minutes, then remove the chickens and turn them over. Cook another 10 minutes. Remove the chickens and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before cutting them in half. Serve a half chicken to each person.

Edward often cooks potatoes at the same time as the chicken. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add 4 medium-sized white potatoes like Yukon gold. Boil for 10 minutes until the potatoes are almost al dente. Drain and slice. Place the potatoes in a baking dish large enough so the slices don’t overlap. Sprinkle the potatoes with about 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoons rosemary leave, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the potatoes in at the same time as the chicken. They will be ready after 45 minutes, brown and puffy looking.




4 Comments on “Baby Chickens and Potatoes

  1. What a story about The War. I don’t mean to sound macabre, but I enjoy hearing the “war stories.” Maybe because there are so few left live to tell them. These stories, gruesome though many are, are something to be cherished. I always worry that people will forget. The youngsters today have no idea, and this is coming from someone who is too young to remember The War herself. Having grown up in the fifties, however, there were stories aplenty. Thanks for sharing yours.

    This chicken dish sounds like a perfect dinner to me. I often prepare chicken in a like fashion, but I have never used red wine. I will have to make the switch from white to red. The combo of garlic, lemon and rosemary is so lovely with the little birds.

    Have a wonderful week.

    • Hi Adri: I know, I never used red wine before, but it’s fabulous!

  2. This is the first time I have ever heard Ed talk about the war…. ah! we do tend to reminisce as we get older! Exactly how I make my chicken (usually on Sunday).. with fresh rosemary from our garden. The kids devour it. Stay well.

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