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Spice Cupboard Chicken with Smashed Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes:
1 1/2 lbs. red-skinned potatoes
1 1/2 t. salt
4 T. butter
1 large clove garlic, minced (substitute minced shallots or green onions, if desired)
1/2 C. milk, or to taste
1/2 to 1 t. (freshly ground) pepper

Spice Cupboard Chicken:
1 whole chicken, cut in 10 serving pieces (see note)
1/2 to 1 T. vegetable oil
1 t. salt
1/2 to 1 t. freshly ground pepper
1 T. paprika
2 t. dried thyme

Pan Sauce (optional)
1 C. chicken broth or wine
1 to 2 T. cream (optional)

For the potatoes:
Wash potatoes and, if they are large, cut them into 2-inch chunks. Put them in a pot with water to cover and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and place in a serving dish.

In the potato-boiling pot, combine butter and minced garlic (or shallots or green onions) and cook over medium heat until butter is melted and garlic is aromatic. Add milk (whole milk makes richer potatoes, but any will do) and heat through.

Use a fork to smash the potatoes as you drizzle hot milk/butter mixture into the potatoes. (Pouring all the milk in at once and then smashing is messy work and may make gluey potatoes.) Season with remaining salt and pepper.

For the chicken:
Heat oven to 375F. Rub chicken pieces with oil. Combine remaining ingredients and rub them all over the chicken. Place the chicken on a shallow baking dish and bake 20 minutes. Turn the chicken and bake 20 minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked to desired taste.

For the pan sauce:
Remove the chicken from the baking pan. Place the pan over stovetop burners set on medium heat. Add chicken broth or wine and let it boil as you stir and scrape at the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture boil down to 1/3 cup or so and spoon over chicken. Add cream if desired for a richer sauce.

Serve chicken and sauce with smashed potatoes and a green vegetable or salad. Makes 6 servings.

Note: Feel free to substitute cut chicken pieces (quarters, breasts, thighs, legs) for the whole chicken in this recipe. Cook extra thighs and breasts if you'd like leftovers for sandwiches. If you're cutting up your own whole chicken, cut the back out and discard it or use it for broth; cut the breast in quarters so everybody can get a little white meat.

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