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Fresh ingredients for tonight's dinner: Mandarin orange, tomatoes, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, blueberries.

Fresh ingredients for tonight’s dinner: Mandarin orange, tomatoes, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, blueberries.

I was in the mood I was in the mood for something earthy and smoky after having lunch at Tertulia. I had ordered croquetas, a classic to start. But then I had the arroz a la plancha. It was so good, made with calasparra rice, snails, wild mushrooms, celery and fennel, all in what looks like a pocket made out of rice. That was incredible, but I also ordered their stew special that had such earthy flavors, a lamb sausage with three different cuts of meat in it: merguez, chuck round and another. They also added chick peas and kale with morracan spices.

It’s hard to think of dinner when your lunch is that good, but I was jealous. I wanted to make something even close to that good. As I sat there the owner walked by a few times and I had to hold myself back from asking him to show me what they’re doing back there in the kitchen. I remained calm.

I did not have the time to recreate that lunch, as usual I didn’t even start cooking until 10pm, but I did make and oven roasted chicken. It seemed season-appropriate.

I started with a bunch of chicken legs and all of the herbs shown above. Under the skin, I stuffed cloves of garlic, fresh rosemary, thyme, a mandarin orange slice. Then I sprinkled salt, pepper, chipotle pepper and some italian breadcrumbs (Grandma’s suggestion), a tiny bit of olive oil and cut up a yam. I baked it in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees. While I waited, I made a little side salad with various seasonal greens and vegetables. (I learned from Bitman that  “if you have turnips and radishes, you almost don’t need kale and collards –they’re all in the same family. And if you have beets, you almost don’t need chard (beets are chard grown primarily for their roots; chard is beets grown for its greens”). I used a combo of baby spinach, arugala, radishes, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, pepper and olive oil, as a dressing. It actually turned out delicious. The fragrance of all of the fresh herbs stayed in the apartment all night.

Herb Roasted Chicken

Herb Roasted Chicken

Herb roasted chicken is another easy dish to make because the preparation is minimal, the waiting time allows you to do other things and prepare great side dishes and the flavor by far supercedes the effort it takes to create it. If you cook the yams with the chicken they absorb some of the chicken fat and flavor. The best part might be that I had remembered to put tin foil at the bottom of the pan so cleanup was minimal.

The herb roasted chicken leg is just the kind of simple, sparse, but universal and flavorful dish that I was craving.

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