"Portland, Oregon, is a food town." This definitive statement appears on page one of the new Portlandia Cookbook: Cook Like a Local ($19; amazon.com), written by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein (along with writer Jonathan Krisel). And the rest is the sort of rollicking ride you'd expect from Armisen and Brownstein, creators of the book's namesake satirical sketch comedy TV show, set and filmed in and around the city of killer green markets and feminist bookstores. Join in on the fun by making one of the dishes from the book, like this Butterflied Chicken Roasted Over Bread which happens to be a serious recipe. If you are pondering the origins of the bird, take a moment to read Carrie's below manifesto on the importance of cooking with ingredients from nearby sources—it is kind of a must. At least if you're from Portland.
"I took Doug with me to this dinner party the other day—it was a locavore dinner party, which basically means: all of the food was extremely local. Like, foraged from the land within five blocks of the house. One of the main courses was a fish that our host had caught from the Burnside Bridge with his Fishing Society right by the skate park. I didn’t even know there were fish in the Willamette you could eat, but apparently it’s a thing.
There was also a delicious mushroom dish. On the napkins was a hand-illustrated guide of poisonous versus nonpoisonous mushrooms growing in the neighborhood. It was really crafty and interesting.
It was a potluck dinner, so Doug and I were supposed to bring something locally foraged, too. We went on a walk around the block, mostly in people’s backyards, looking for edible things. We found a plum tree at our neighbor’s place, but we would have had to take a lot of them, which seemed sketchy. This guy down the street has a chicken coop ... but that seemed really complicated even if we just tiptoed in there and took a couple of eggs. The chickens did not seem friendly.
We ended up bringing some mint from our backyard. I used it to make mint lemonade. And Doug made a mix tape to play at the party, which went over really well."
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 ½1/2 hours
Serves: 4 to 6
1 pound small Italian or Japanese eggplants, cut into 1½-inch chunks
1 1-pound loaf of Italian bread, cut into 1½-inch chunks
½ cup pitted Sicilian green olives
1 tablespoon harissa or sambal
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
½ tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3½- to 4-pound chicken
½ cup crumbled feta
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, bread, olives, harissa, garlic, rosemary, oregano, and olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a roasting pan or a large, rimmed baking sheet in an even layer.
3. On a cutting board, using kitchen shears, cut on either side of the chicken’s backbone and remove it. Set the chicken breast-side-up and press to lightly crack the breastbone and flatten the breast. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper and set it on the bread mixture.
4. Roast the chicken in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, until the skin is crispy and golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165°F, the eggplant is tender, and the bread is lightly toasted in spots. Be sure to lift the bird and stir the mixture occasionally for even browning.
5. Turn on the broiler. Move the chicken to one side and stir the feta into the bread and eggplant. Set the chicken, skin-side down, on top of the mixture and broil until everything is crispy and lightly browned, being careful not to burn the bread. Flip the chicken so it is skin-side-up, spreading the bread and eggplant mixture all around, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes to re-crisp the skin. Cut into pieces and serve.