saturday morning

“Speak to me with morning voices
and glance across that pillow
with dawn in your eyes.
I want to hear you stir from sleep
and listen to the sheets
as they whisper of your rising.
What worth does this day hold,
if it does not begin
with you?”
-Tyler Knott Gregson

Saturday mornings have really been speaking to me lately—there is something there worth exploring, worth understanding how the week folds together to end up there. The cups of black coffee sipped absentmindedly, loosely tangled in white sheets--perhaps a new book or the latest episode of America’s Test Kitchen, sometimes at seven in the morning, others at ten. It makes no difference. This time and space are for me.

And yet, there is a weight to these mornings, the way in which silence seems to move the day forward into itself. I feel wholly Jesse in these moments, as though there is an intimacy in spending time together with yourself, alone. A breakfast, un-thought; using what is on hand and not worrying too much. The outcome will be the outcome. I will be filled. And whole. And satisfied. An entirely common and banal moment somehow filled with so much weight—the weight of the ritual of me

I will not say I am lonely in these moments, but I would be lying if I said they didn’t evoke a strong desire to share them. Is there anything more rewarding than spending these simple moments with another? Both of you, moving the day forward, together and alone. Saying nothing simply because nothing needs to be said, and enjoying the comfort of silence. I miss that. The grace of it all. The ease. The quiet hope for the weekend ahead. 

Perhaps it is just that Saturday mornings are a metaphor for a larger relationship goal. Or maybe it is just that they don’t need to justify themselves. Our actions on a Saturday morning are not held to the same scrutiny as during the rest of the week. We can just be. And how nice to “just be” alongside someone else? How nice to effortlessly see, acknowledge, and value both yourself and another all in one moment, without a single word to make it complicated? 

I tried to keep that feeling for as long as I could last weekend, holding the hand of that centeredness through a delightful get-together with old colleagues on Saturday and exploring the farmer’s market on Sunday. It’s easy to get overwhelmed there with the possibilities and what-if’s, the realization that there is so much more you could be cooking, canning, eating. But I held back and gave space to just explore--dinner fell together as I hoped: simply and carelessly. A roasted chicken with lemon, smoked paprika and tarragon, crisped baby potatoes flecked with flaky salt, and sautéed broccolini. It was a meal that spoke of home more than I had any right to expect it to, which I suppose is something I will want to share one day too. 

Roasted Chicken with Crisped Potatoes
Loosely adapted from Cook’s Country 

1 whole chicken, 3.5-4 lbs
2lbs new potatoes, halved (baby Yukon or fingerling will also work)
1 ½ T. smoked paprika
Zest of one lemon
2 T. chopped tarragon
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

If you have the time, take your chicken out of its wrappings, pat it dry inside and out with paper towels, and place it on a wire rack sitting inside a rimmed baking sheet. Season the chicken liberally with kosher salt (about a tablespoon in total) all over and place on the rack. Let the chicken sit, uncovered, in the fridge for at least an hour, but up to six. This will help dry out the skin to ensure it is crisp and will give the salt time to penetrate. If you don’t have the time, move right on to the next step.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, lemon zest, tarragon, a grind or two of pepper, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Massage this mixture all over the chicken, making sure to get underneath the skin above the breasts. Set aside. 

Toss the potatoes with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Arrange the potatoes cut-side down in a single layer on a non-stick, oven safe skillet. Place the seasoned chicken directly on top of the potatoes and place the entire pan in the oven. Roast for about an hour, until the breasts reach 160 degrees and the thighs reach 175. Be sure to rotate the pan halfway through for even browning.

Carefully remove the chicken from the potatoes and set aside to rest. You may need to pour off some fat from the pan if your potatoes are swimming, but leave a little behind. Heat the skillet over medium heat until the bottoms of the potatoes have thoroughly browned and crisped. Transfer potatoes to a serving platter and check for seasoning. Carve the chicken and serve together with a bit more flaky salt and perhaps a fresh squeeze of lemon.