Recipe from All About Roasting by Molly Stevens (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011)This one-dish meal deserves to be the centerpiece of a cozy family supper or a casual gathering of friends. It's not meant to be fancy or elegant; it's just very tasty and satisfying. For the full effect, you'll need a relatively big chicken, one that's 5 to 5 1/2 pounds-sometimes labeled as oven-roasters. (If you can only find smaller chickens, see the option that follows.) To prevent the breast from drying out I use a moderate oven, and I sneak some diced bacon under the skin before roasting. As the bacon slowly renders its fat, it moistens the breast while imparting some smoky goodness. For even more flavor, I brush the bird with melted butter mixed with balsamic vinegar and honey. This tangy-sweet glaze turns the breast gorgeously brown and more than makes up for any loss of browning you get from roasting in a moderate oven. The root vegetables-think carrots, parsnips, turnips, and beets (the choice is yours, as long as they're hardy)-share the roasting pan with the chicken. Not only does this allow the vegetables to soak up plenty of savory juices as they roast, but there's also one less pan to clean.
Serves 4 to 6Method: Moderate heat
Roasting time: About 1 1/2 hours
Plan ahead: For the best-tasting, juiciest chicken, presalt the chicken at least 8 hours and up to 48 hours before roasting.
Wine/Beer: Fruity young Garnacha blend from Navarra Spain or Côte du Rhône Villages; or a rich export-style Stout.
- One 5- to 6-pound chicken
- 1 medium-thick slice of bacon (about 1 ounce), diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds mixed root vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, parsnips, beets, turnips, celery root, and/or rutabaga, trimmed, peeled or scrubbed if left unpeeled, and cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence (see page 275), plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 medium onion, ends cut off, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1. Trim and season the chicken. Over the sink, remove the giblets and discard or reserve for another use. Drain off any liquid and dry the chicken inside and out with paper towels. Pull off and discard any large deposits of fat from the neck or body cavity opening. Use your fingertips to gently loosen the skin over the breast of the chicken, starting at the cavity opening, and push the diced bacon under the skin, doing your best to spread it evenly over the breast. If you are presalting the chicken, refer to the directions and salt amounts on pages 257-58, but use the amount suggested for a 4-pound chicken because of the extra salt in the bacon. If not presalting, season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper. Let the chicken stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
2. Heat the oven. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375 degrees (350 degrees convection).
3. Season the vegetables. Place all of the vegetables except the red beets, if using, in a large mixing bowl; if you're using red beets, place them in a separate bowl so they don't stain the other vegetables. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons oil and season with the 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper, tossing to coat. (For beets, add just enough oil to coat very lightly and a pinch of the herbes, salt, and pepper.)
4. Make the glaze. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in the vinegar and honey and set aside in a warm place.
5. Roast the chicken and vegetables. Arrange the onion slices in a single layer in the center of a low-sided roasting pan (I use a 14-by-12-inch pan). Set the chicken breast side up on the onion slices and tie the legs together using kitchen string, if you want the bird to look spiffy when it comes out of the oven (see page 259 for more on trussing).
Arrange the vegetables all around. They should be in a dense single layer, but don't worry if they are a little crowded; they will shrink as they roast. Slide the chicken into the oven, preferably with the legs facing away from the door. After 25 minutes, brush the breast and drumsticks with some of the glaze and nudge the vegetables around with a metal spatula to promote even cooking (don't worry if you can't stir them thoroughly; it's nice to have some more browned than others). Continue roasting, brushing on additional glaze and stirring the vegetables at 20-minute intervals, until the chicken juices run clear with only a trace of pink when you prick the thigh and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching bone) registers 170 degrees, a total of 1 1/3 to 1 2/3 hours. If at any point the chicken seems to be getting darker on one side than the other, rotate the pan in the oven.
6. Rest, carve, and serve. Transfer the chicken to a carving board (preferably one with a trough to catch the juices) and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Leave the sliced onions in the pan with the other vegetables, and give all the vegetables a good stir with a metal spatula, scraping up any browned bits and coating them with pan juices. Poke a few different vegetables with the tip of a knife to be sure they are nice and tender; if not, return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes or so to finish roasting the vegetables as the chicken rests. If the vegetables are done, set them aside in a warm spot as the chicken rests. Carve the chicken (see page 266) and serve it with the vegetables, stirring the vegetables before serving so they are coated with pan drippings.
Option: Sunday Supper Little Roast Chickens and Root Vegetables
If you can't find a large roasting chicken or you simply prefer smaller birds (or because, like me, you sometimes want more wings and legs to go around), substitute two 3- to 3 1/4-pound chickens in the recipe above. Cut the vegetables into 1-inch pieces (as opposed to 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks) to accommodate a shorter roasting time. You'll also need a larger roasting pan (13 by 16 inches works) or a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet. Expect the chickens to be done in 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.