As much as one likes to cook, one has to admit that on some nights, a bit of convenience and instant gratification doesn’t hurt. And when our mood clamors for an effortless yet satisfying dinner at home, it is a true comfort to know that we can turn to the Chicken Family*, and that the Chicken Family will be there for us.
Chicken Family is the name of a small rôtisserie on rue des Abbesses. More a stand than an actual shop, it is a narrow, corridor-like space with large roasting racks on both sides, and a little platform on which you step to place your order. It is indeed a family-run business (I don’t think their last name is actually Chicken, but I feel quite free to call them whatever I wish to in my mind) and all of its members — the father, the mother, the daughter, and a young man who I like to think is the son-in-law — have a constant air of gaiety (the heat-flushed cheeks certainly help) that is quite communicative, and adds a great deal to one’s chicken-buying pleasure.
Even during the recent heatwave, when it must have been the seventh circle of hell to stand by the open roasters, and when 99% of the population was huffing and puffing and feeling either indignant or quite sorry for themselves, they still managed to smile their merry smiles and exchange the usual pleasantries with the customers.
“All right, all right, we get it, they’re your neighborhood heroes. But what of the chicken?” Ah, the chicken. The skin golden-brown and crispy, the flesh perfectly seasoned and remarkably moist, it is roasted chicken at its best (with the exception of my mother’s naturally) and I could have it every. single. day. Only I don’t, because I fear I might exhaust the magic.
In addition to their chicken, the Chicken Family rotisserie also sells a variety of home-style sides and desserts, allowing you to put together an entire meal in one fell, convenient swoop. We have had their îles flottantes a couple of times and they are quite good, but the satellite item I most often buy is a portion of their splendid green beans, bursting with flavor and tender just so.
I once asked how they were prepared, and was told that they were simply sautéed in olive oil with caramelized onions. This seemed straightforward enough, and when I found some healthy-looking green beans at the market recently, I decided to try and emulate the Chicken Family recipe. My copycat green beans didn’t turn out exactly the same way as the original — I suspect the Chicken Family uses a larger amount of olive oil than I can bring myself to — but they were quite close, and they made for a very pleasing side to the oven-roasted fish we were having that day, a beautiful rascasse from La Poissonnerie Bleue.
And yet the Chicken Family need not worry: I’m glad I know how to make these green beans, but it certainly won’t stop me from buying them, ready-made and oh-so-convenient, at my favorite rotisserie.
* Update: To our infinite sadness, the Chicken Family rôtisserie is now closed.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- One clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced thinly
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 500 grams (1 pound) fresh green beans, trimmed
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onions, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, stir, cover, and cook over gentle heat for 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until softened and golden.
- In the meantime, steam the beans for 8 minutes, until cooked through but still firm. Add the beans to the skillet, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper, add 1 teaspoon oil, and stir to coat.
- Cover and cook over low heat for another 10 minutes, until the beans soften and get intimate with the onions. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and decide if the beans need a little more time -- I like them soft.