Good mashed potatoes rarely need improvement or so I thought until I tried Claudia Roden’s mashed potatoes with pine nuts, adapted here.
Even if chilli is not your thing do try a little as it gives the dish a warm-inner-glow type lift. Grinding your own spices does make a difference so invest in a spice grinder and mini nutmeg grater. Performing this task will take an extra minute or two but the results are really worth it. Whole spices keep very well so you won’t be throwing out half full packets of stale, pre-ground spices. I ground up three tiny dried chillies with a couple of shards of cinnamon stick and the flavour was terrific.
Paprika roast chicken & spicy mashed potatoes
1 large free-range chicken
1 lemon, cut in half lengthwise
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp salt flakes
several grindings of pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves chopped very fine
Preheat oven to 180C. Dry the chicken well and stuff the lemon inside. Tie the legs together. Brush a baking dish or cast iron skillet (just big enough to hold the chicken) with oil. Place the chicken in the dish. Mix the paprika with the oil and brush the chicken over all exposed skin. Mix together the salt, pepper and finely chopped thyme. Sprinkle this generously all over the chicken. Pour half a centimetre of water into the bottom of the baking vessel. Roast the chicken for 60 – 80 minutes, depending on the size of your bird – juices between the thigh and carcass should be clear. Baste the bird with the cooking juices from time to time and top up the water as needed so that you have some spicy, sticky, lemon-scented pan juices to serve.
Mashed potatoes with fried onion and pine nuts
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a saucepan. Add one onion, sliced into half rings, and cook until richly golden. Add 3 tbsp pine nuts and keep cooking until the pine nuts are golden brown and the onion rich brown.
Meanwhile boil 1 kilo peeled potatoes until soft. Mash well and beat with 60g butter, 90ml hot milk (or mix of crème fraiche and hot chicken stock), pepper and salt to taste, 1 tsp freshly ground cinnamon, scant tsp freshly ground chilli and half tsp freshly grated nutmeg. Pile into a serving dish and top with the onion and pine nut mix.
Serve with a green vegetable like steamed broccolini or green beans.