Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

Roast chicken with potatoes, carrots and onions is the quintessential dinner everyone should know how to make.  It takes an hour and a half and there’s nothing to it once you have the vegetables cut up.  The humble chicken is exalted to the stratosphere and makes your home smell like warmth and comfort.  It could not be easier or more adaptable to using what you have on hand in the refrigerator or using your family’s favorite vegetables.  It’s fairly inexpensive, serves 4+, and you can use the bones to make chicken stock.  All the root vegetables are fair game like fennel, parsnips, beets, onions, potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots and any herbs you like or mixture of spices work.  You really can’t go wrong.  There is nothing better than caramelized onions and carrots.   I don’t bother tying the legs together.  It always seems to come out evenly cooked and delicious and this is a family dinner and meant to be rustic with no fuss.  The tips to roasting a great chicken are to take the chicken out of the refrigerator an hour before you put it in the oven.  Wash it, pat it dry with paper towels and salt and pepper the chicken inside and out and set it out on the counter so it can get to room temperature and the skin can dry out and cook more evenly and brown.  I like to keep the vegetables chunky so they don’t melt into the roasting pan.  Use a roasting pan just large enough to hold the chicken and all the vegetables and blast the oven to 425 degrees.  I put the roasting pan on the bottom shelf of the oven and baste the chicken and toss the vegetables a few times throughout the cooking time.  The chicken is done when you can pierce it with the tip of a knife and the juices run clear, the skin on the legs starts to shrink or a thermometer reads 160 in the thickest part of the thigh.  Usually, after 1 ½ hours, the chicken is fully cooked.  Take the chicken out and place it on a cutting board and cover with foil for 10 minutes before you carve.  With a baster, remove as much of the oil from the pan as you can and put the vegetables back in the oven to get even more brown if they need it while the chicken rests.  As far as the seasoning goes – the sky is the limit.  For this chicken I placed slices of lemon (you could also use oranges or a combo of lemons and oranges), 6 smashed garlic cloves and the stems from the herbs in the cavity and sprinkled fresh thyme and chopped rosemary over the whole chicken.  I poured a little olive oil over the vegetables and salt and peppered them.  I melted a tablespoon of butter and poured it over the chicken for better browning, but olive oil works well too.   To change the flavor of the chicken you can use a mixture of cumin, oregano, and chili powder, or the Middle Eastern spice mix Dukkah (you can get it at Trader Joe’s now or see my Chicken Dukkah recipe), classic French Herbes de Provençe ~  thyme, lavender, fennel and rosemary, an Indian garam masala mix, the Middle Eastern spice mix baharat (see my recipe for Baharat Meatballs with Fava Beans), cover it with harissa, or coat it with hoisin mixed with ginger and garlic ~ the list is endless and they are all delicious.   For directions on how to carve a chicken, look at my recipe for roast turkey.  Click here for the recipe….

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