Thursday, July 31, 2008

A battered roasting tin

One of the mysteries of cooking is how apparently poor equipment can sometimes work particularly well. In Simple French Food, Richard Olney recalls how the doyenne of the beurre blanc -- a tricky sauce to get right -- used to operate in a tiny kitchen with a battered enamel saucepan. Here in France, we have hopeless, worn, thin roasting tins; yet somehow they produce excellent roast potatoes, which never stick.

The ingredients must have something to do with it. The potatoes, red-skinned, are waxy and flavoursome. Also, this time, I did blanche them, bringing them to the boil in a pan of water and allowing them to bubble for a minute. The purpose was not to soften them or to roughen the edges, but simply to remove the surface starch. Then, with an hour's cooking time to go, I removed the chicken from the tin, tipped in the potatoes and stirred them round with a little more olive oil, and put the chicken back on top. As in the previous recipes, I removed the chicken when done, allowed it to rest, and returned the potatoes to the top shelf of the oven at full heat until they had absorbed the sauce and had browned. They did not stick.


The Phantom Chef said...

"One of the mysteries of cooking is how apparently poor equipment can sometimes work particularly well" - What an amazingly true statement. When I first moved in with my girlfriend, I needed a roasting tin - The small convenience store round the corner sold a thin metal one for 99p - You can see where this is going... - Quite simply, it's just brilliant. Seasoned from plenty of use, this tin feels like it's going to outlast everything in my kitchen. Similarly I know friends who have spent stupid money on matching sets - I buy to my requirements. Consequently, nothing matches in terms of cookware, but I can always be assured that I have just the right pan for my needs!

Nicholas Clee said...

In my book, I wrote that a roasting tin was one of the few items of kitchen equipment on which it was worth splashing out. Now, I am not so sure. A cheap, thin one can burn your fat, however.