Did I ever mention I’m a complete Francophile? Ah, ok. I thought I had. The language. The culture. The fact that they can have a very public screaming match, look like the fisticuffs are a fraction of a second away, and a minute later take a drink together. The fact that they don’t need to go away because their country is so damn beautiful. How they do le bisou for a greeting. La petanque.
I love the fact that they’re so hard to please, nothing you can say (or cook!) will ever gain any traction cause you ain’t French. Brilliant - if the English were like this we might still hold on to the Empire. Snobbish, but only in the intellectual sense. Insular, but hosting the blini-and-vodka stalls at the Christmas market. Vincent Cassel. Olivier Martinez. Daniel Craig who?
So not surprising that one of the things I’m absolutely enamoured with is the French village market, complete with their soap-et-vanilla stalls, a thousand varieties of tomato stalls, the skanky ripe and gorgeous veg in the crates right on the floor.
That’s where you can find the traditional rotisseries, with the chickens turning on the spits and the potatoes roasting in the drippings. The ultimate salivating lunchtime temptation. Such a match made in heaven: chickens browning and crisping evenly and the spuds underneath, basting in the glorious fat, shaken about every now and then.
My version is of course only a reproduction of the process as no matter what, the chicken won’t turn here, but roasting some of the time on its belly helps brown it more evenly. The key thing is to match a rack onto the roasting dish so the chicken doesn’t slide off and land on the floor during basting. And the outcome is really good - the best you can get sans rôtisserie.