NEW YORK (NYTimes) - You know that famous saying about taking one thing off before you leave the house? I think of that often when I am cooking.
My general rule is that unless an ingredient truly adds something to the experience of eating the dish, it has to go. I have tested enough recipes in my day to know whether a stew could survive without that quarter of a teaspoon of ground cumin or if a sheet-pan dinner really needs the four additional vegetables it calls for.
I think we as home cooks get so fatigued with basic ingredients and preparations that we grasp at straws, adding a handful of this or a spoonful of that to whatever we are cooking just to compensate for our own boredom. But for me, less has always been more.
You do not need every vegetable from the market sprinkled with the contents of your pantry to make something excellent. Choose two or three ingredients, then season them interestingly and assertively.
Take chicken and potatoes. This is not news, but chicken and potatoes are good – really, really good – and I am not sure they need anything else getting in their way.
Would this particular chicken, slathered in a simple, garlicky chillibutter, be excellent stuffed with loads of herbs and halved lemons? Absolutely. Does it need it? Not really. Would the potatoes, highly seasoned with vinegar and salt, be delicious if they were tossed with sliced onion or maybe some cauliflower? Probably, but I will never know for certain because I will not be doing that. My chicken and potatoes are all I need.
Once your sheet pan is out of the oven, you will see your restraint rewarded with a juicy, fiery-orange chicken, and tangy potatoes that are equal parts crisp and tender. If you feel like adding a third star ingredient because you, like me, do not like even numbers, thinly sliced scallion or the tender stems and leaves of cilantro will give you freshness without feeling superfluous. But they are definitely optional.
For a few moments, all will be made right in your world. And it happened there on that sheet pan.
Chilli-Butter Chicken With Vinegared Potatoes
Yield: 4 servings Total time: 1 hour
One 1.6kg chicken, or 1.6kg bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
680g Yukon Gold potatoes (about 5), scrubbed and sliced 6mm thick
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup cilantro or parsley, tender leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1. Heat oven to 220 deg C. Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.
2. Melt butter and 2 Tbs olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add red-pepper flakes, paprika and garlic and swirl to combine. Let sizzle a minute or two to really infuse the butter, and remove from heat.
3. Scatter potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, toss with vinegar, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
4. Place chicken on top of potatoes, breast side up, and drizzle with the chile butter, drizzling any extra butter onto the potatoes. Using your hands or a spatula, give the potatoes a little toss to get that butter evenly distributed.
5. Place in oven and roast until chicken and potatoes are deeply golden brown, and chicken is cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes for a whole chicken, 40 to 45 minutes for parts.
6. Remove from oven and let chicken rest on potatoes for a few minutes so the juices mingle with the potatoes. Carve the chicken (or slice the pieces) and transfer to a large plate or platter along with potatoes. Scatter with herbs and scallions before serving.