The Marché Grenelle is one of the biggest of Parisian markets. It also happens to be a few blocks up the street from my home. Every Sunday and Wednesday, with red cart in tow, I make my way to the market without fail - rain, shine or snow!
The stands sit protected from the weather under the metro tracks between La Motte Piquet Grenelle and Dupleix, making it the perfect place to shop in any weather.
Crowds are thickest on Sundays after 11am as shoppers from all across the city come to this market known for its producers and high quality vendors (Apparently there is a 5 year waiting list to become a permanent vendor here). Strollers come for the pleasure of seeing the beautiful displays of flowers, produce, seafood and... eggs.
Wednesday is another story, it's locals day. The central isle is busy but not difficult to navigate. The customers beside you in line are more willing to share their opinion of the product; how they prepare it and why one vendor is superior to another. The vendors are more relaxed, they chit chat with their regulars and each other; and are grateful to be able to slip off in shifts to 'Le Moka', a cafe on the corner for 'un express' or 'un petit blanc' (a diminutive glass of white wine).
I actually prefer Wednesdays, even if a few of my favorite merchants are sometimes absent. The atmosphere is just so darned friendly. That being said, yesterday (Wednesday) yielded a wonderful plump hen from my favorite poultry vendor. Prepared to order, including use of a blow torch to singe off the pin feathers (it is considered a compliment to ask to have your bird or breast "prepared") I looked forward to dinner that night.
When I was about 10, my godmother's mother showed me how to roast chicken. Now, bear in mind that my godmother, Madeleine, is now 85... at the time we were in a little apartment in the 14th where Madeleine was raised by her widowed maman. The kitchen was tiny but the food that emerged was fabulous. I've been roasting my chicken in this fashion for quite some time now - and even though I experiment with other methods, I always come back to this one:
- Madeleine's Mothers Roast Chicken -
Get yourself a 4 - 5lb 'roaster' (though some folks believe that roasting anything smaller than 6 lbs is foolish - I'm not sure I agree) Pre-heat your oven to 400 F (205 c) THEN......
- put some olive oil in a roasting pan, coat the bottom and edges
- put the giblets and neck in the center, making a 'platform' for the bird
- rinse the bird inside and out with cool water
- pat the bird dry.
- put salt, pepper and fresh thyme inside the cavity - shake the bird a bit to spread it all around
- drizzle the bird with olive oil and give the bird a little massage
- put 2 peeled garlic toes, one small onion or shallot cut in half and a bay leaf in the cavity - a couple of chunks of carrot for flavor is nice too.
- bring the legs together and tie them with kitchen twine
- place bird on the 'giblet platform' in the roasting pan
- sprinkle the bird liberally with paprika, salt, pepper and thyme
- put small potatoes or potato wedges, carrot chunks and quartered onions that have been tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper around the bird in the roasting pan
- add 1 cup water or wine (red or white, both are good)
- Put the roasting pan in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes (is the skin brown and toasty?)
- Lower the heat to 350 F (177 c)
- Then baste the bird and all the vegetables generously - tossing the vegetables if need be.
- Cook for another 45 minutes to an hour. (I generally roast my birds about 90 minutes.. a little pink in the leg joint is not a bad thing, plus the breast is not dry)
- *** If you did opt for a 6 lb roaster, roast your bird, in total, for 2 hours.
- Remove from the oven
- Allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving
This would be a good time to make your green vegetable or put your salad together. I served my chicken with Brussel Sprouts. I love Brussel Sprouts!
Cut off the bottom and then cut them in half, rinse and quickly cook them in salted, boiling water. Don't over cook or they are yucky... about 5 minutes aught to do it! If your not sure, take one out of the water and sample. It should be bright green and firm, but not raw in the middle. Drain and toss with either a little olive oil or sweet butter, salt & pepper.
Be sure to serve this meal with crusty french bread as there should be plenty of sauce to spoon over the chicken and vegetables - or just go ahead and dip your bread into the roasting pan! A green salad and some red wine make this a delicious and simple meal.
Wednesdays - 7am to 2:30pm
Sundays - 7am to 3pm
M: La Motte Piquet Grenelle (lines 6, 8, 10)