Roasted Provençal Chicken with Hasselback Potatoes

by Darina on April 3, 2014

Post image for Roasted Provençal Chicken with Hasselback Potatoes

People who love to eat are always the best people    – Julia Child

Growing up, I used to think every family ate like mine. We had a smokehouse in our backyard, where my dad cured his own bacon and prosciutto. Sausages regularly hung from the roof of the tool shed like stalactites. My mother canned beets and pickles and cherries, and I don’t think I even tasted store-bought jam until I was in my twenties. Other families bring potato salad to picnics; we brought ham hocks and a goulash pot. In my late teens, I often came home late from a night on the town to find my father in the kitchen, baking bread for our Sunday breakfast.

We didn’t live on a farm but in a regular suburban neighbourhood. The people around us seemed to live the same way. The Czechs next door ate just as well, as did the Danes up the street. All of my parents’ fellow Yugoslavian friends were similarly entrenched in food. My dad’s best friend would drive twenty kilometers into the city every Saturday to get the right pork loin at the right butcher shop. He went to Little Italy for San Marzano tomatoes and good olive oil.

Even as children, we got to go to good restaurants. Fancy ones, where I would order escargots and my brother ordered quail. We traveled a lot and were adventurous eaters. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about food.  I once wanted to become a chef, but decided that I wanted to be a writer even more.

roast.chick.aprilGiven all of this, it has somehow become my greatest misfortune–or perhaps bad karma–to continually be in relationships with men who don’t care about food. Vegans and men with strange food phobias. Men who eat Frankenfoods out of boxes and bags. Muscle building men who live on kale juice and protein shakes. I used to think all men cooked–like my brother and my dad and his friend Walter–until I started dating. Then came a parade of men who didn’t even know how to boil water. That was, until I met Jeff.

Jeff and I went to graduate school together and traveled in the same circles but on the piriphery. When we finally connected, it was all about cooking and food. Jeff worked from home, throughout the day and evening, but found large pockets of time to cook elaborate meals. For our first weekend away together, he rented a million dollar beach house with restaurant quality kitchen appliances and spent two days plying me with the most amazing meals. He made little fingers from toast to dip into my soft boiled eggs and fresh pomegranate martinis with seeds in them. He taught me how to make no-knead bread in a Dutch Oven and how press a steak gently with my fingers to test for doneness. When I informed him that you have to be careful when purchasing olive oil because a lot of it is not the real deal, he was enraged and marched down to the supermarket to confront the manager for duping customers with inferior products at inflated prices.chicken.menuAs a couple, we were not to be, but I believe that all people are our teachers and no relationship is for naught. Jeff taught me a lot about food and the presentation of it. Although I had been cooking for a over two decades when we met, I was still pretty much a one-trick pony in the kitchen, with a limited repertoire of similar foods like pastas and shellfish. Because of Jeff, I now regularly make dishes like beouf buirguignon and rosemary and pistachio encrusted lamb chops. I make my own mayonnaise and marinades and dressings. And I do all of these things for myself–for if not for me then for whom?

potato.collageThese days, it’s nothing for me to rub some herbs and oil on a chicken and stick it in the oven to roast slowly on a Sunday afternoon while I read a book or look at photographs. I can eat for a week on this. I thrown in a few heads of garlic to roast for dressing, make chicken salad for my sandwiches. I save the bones for stock and freeze the breast to incorporate into salads and pasta dishes. Why go to the supermarket for rotisserie chicken when you can fill your home with the perfume of a slowly roasting bird and chew on its crackling and crispy skin minutes after it comes out of the oven?

hasselback.potatoes.aprilJeff and I have stayed friends from a distance, reconnecting every once in a while to share recipes and talk about what we’ve been cooking. Recently, we were finally in the same city at the same time to share a meal together. He cooked, of course. Crispy red skinned potatoes with a jumble of grape tomatoes and asparagus. Baby arugula salad with a dressing laced with lavender honey from the Fraser Valley and topped with finely grated Parmesan, and a thick juicy ribeye barbequed to medium rare perfection. It was like old times, complaining about failed relationships and Mexican strawberries over glasses of Cabarnet.

I’m not longer deeply disappointed when I meet a man who is a vegetarian or on a low-carb diet. I know there are more important things to have in common than what you like to eat–lifestyle and values, for example. But it was sure nice to share a meal with someone who loves cooking as much as I do. I’m sure people who love golf feel similarly in the company of other golfers. Perhaps one day another man will come along, who will chop parsley and vegetables with me while we dance in the kitchen, but until then, I’ll be at the helm of my stove, cooking for friends who appreciate a good roasted chicken even though they’d never want to cook one.

chicken.macro.aprilhasselback.aprilRoasted Provencal Chicken with Hasselback Potatoes


1 – 3.5-4 pound (1.6 kilo) chicken, rinsed and patted dry
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Herbs de Provençe
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 head of garlic, top trimmed
1 lemon, halved

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons melted butter
Fleur de Sel or other coarse salt


Preheat oven to 350F. In a mortar and pestle, grind Herbs de Provençe with black pepper and salt. Combine with 1/4 cup olive oil and minced garlic. Put chicken in a roasting pan breast side up; rub oil mixture on inside and outside of chicken. Stuff half a lemon and head of garlic into the cavity and tie the legs of the chicken together with kitchen twine. Drizzle with any remaining olive oil. Put the chicken in the preheated oven.

Rest potatoes on a board and cut several slits side-by-side about 3/4 way down; place potato on a spoon as a guide if needed. Brush liberally with olive oil and melted butter, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Add potatoes slits face up to the roasting pan once the chicken has been roasting for half an hour. Roast the chicken and potatoes for another hour, rotating the pan and basting with the drippings every 20 minutes. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer says 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Remove chicken and potatoes to a platter and let stand ten minutes before carving.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Rochelle @ Oh So Sweet Baker April 10, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Loving the sound of this delicious chicken with those potatoes. Beautiful photos too!

Bebe April 12, 2014 at 8:53 am

I have nothing to add to this wonderfully entertaining post but “thank you”….

Your story, your elegant photos, your recipes. I’ll be trying this one and my oven will be grateful. I’ve been doing chickens at high temps lately – lots of smoke, and not much of value to show for it. Slow-cooked will be next.

The hardest thing is finding smallish chickens like you specify. We are getting 5+ pounders. Not as tender.

Annie June 6, 2014 at 7:30 pm

I really enjoyed your story. Your words are vivid with details. Thank you so much. Can’t wait to try this recipe …among all the others that I have pinned from your site. Keep up the great work.

Darina June 13, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Thank you so much, Annie!

Karen Martin October 7, 2014 at 6:20 am

Wonderful story AND recipe! The only tiny addition I would make is to briefly explain what Herbs de Provençe is (are?). I will now have to go look it up…. :-)

Jaden October 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

I love the story!! Fabulous recipe – this will be on my Thanksgiving table.

Mikaela Cowles October 7, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I find there are writers who I come back to again and again. These are the blogs and books that fill me up. These are stories which allow me to tackle my own projects with enthusiasm. It’s simple things, nerdy things, like sentence structure, which get me excited. The way a writer uses it to dictate the cadence of a piece, the way they control the mood.

Long story short, thank you. I needed a little pick-me-up today. And you, dear lady north of the border, delivered. I feel like I discovered another power gem for my arsenal.

I’m also very much looking forward to trying to make my own roasted chicken again. In the past, it’s been a disaster to say the least.

Pam S October 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

I just found your lovely hassleback potato photo on Pinterest, and clicked in for the nice read as well. When I was dating, picky or non-adventurous eating men were simply a nonstarter. Eating well is like breathing to me, a principal pleasure I am unwilling to compromise for a relationship. It was a clear intention, and as things like that seem to work out, my Mr. Wonderful loves the table experience as much as I do. I hope for you that even though Jeff didn’t come with the rest if the package, that you will hold this value and meet a man who shares it with you!

Darina October 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Thank you so much, Jaden. I love your work!

Darina October 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Thnak you for stopping by. I do have a new Mr Wonderful and he loves food almost as much as I do. We are quite decadent together :)

Darina October 8, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Thank you so much, Mikaela. I’m glad you enjoy your visits here. It’s readers like you that keep me going. :) I appreciate your taking the time to comment .

Jim October 17, 2014 at 10:47 am

I am a self trained beginner cook with a question. First I like to try recipes that were “raved” about. Second I tend to want the finished product to be awesome. Third I usually follow the directions verbatim the first time I make a dish because cooking and all the flavor science that goes into it is not intuitive to me.
Question, why is it that the photo rarely matches what the list of ingredients & sequencing dictate it should look like. Case in point. You call for instructions call for ONE HEAD of Garlic (head trimmed) but the photos clearly show TWO. Now comes the problem, what else was done, added etc. that I didn’t see in the photos that will affect the outcome of the recipe?????????????????

Darina October 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm

That is a valid question. I put more garlic in the pan so I can roast it at the same time and use in salad dressings, in spreads, etc. It doesn’t affect this recipe in particular.

Felicia Reevers October 25, 2014 at 6:16 pm

This looks amazing! Will definitely try it before the holidays – thanks!

Darina October 26, 2014 at 3:50 pm

So simple and people are really impressed by them :)

Ro February 26, 2015 at 5:44 pm

I can say “well-done” to this beautifully written blog, but you will never hear me say “well-done” when wording steak. Thanks. This was a joy to read!

Darina February 26, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Thanks so much! Thank you for stopping by :)

kelsea March 1, 2015 at 1:51 pm


Cheryl in NC June 1, 2015 at 7:51 am

Wow, Darina! What a beautifully written blog! (And one that brought a smile to my lips more than once!) How I would have loved a childhood like yours. Sounds wonderful! I can see why it might have inspired a love of cooking in you, whereas mine only inspired a love of reading and collecting recipes, lol.

I’ve only just discovered you, by the way, via RasaMalasia, but will definitely take a much deeper look after this first taste (your photos are also beautiful ;-). Excited for the exploration ahead of me, and I promise to leave another comment before I leave you. Thanks so much for all your sharing.

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