Roast Chicken with Autumn Vegetables

October 28, 2010

When confronted with the task of cooking meat, I usually sort of cringe a bit. Since my two year stint as a vegetarian, I have done little to pursue meat. The occasional hamburger brought me back from the strict no-meat diet, but little else has enticed me to make carnivorous habits part of my everyday life. Hearing Jonathan Safron Foer speak about his new book Eating Animals, seeing the documentary Food Inc., and generally not being able to afford edible meat (organic, free-range, grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free, local, etc.) has steered me away from any sort of formal courtship with meat.

But, then I encountered Alice.

Alice Waters is a constant inspiration for me. The woman singlehandedly started the 1970’s food revolution in America. Is that too bold to say? Perhaps, but she sure did a lot to get all things local and seasonal to the modern American dinner table. And the woman likes her meat. Her cookbooks are full of fascinating recipes for everything animal.

Her newest book, In the Green Kitchen, chronicles a number of Slow Foods chefs that share simple recipes that should be at the core of every home cooks repertoire. She writes:

Cooking creates a sense of well-being for yourself and the people you love and brings beauty and meaning to everyday life. And all it requires is common sense – the common sense to eat seasonally, to know where your foods comes from, to support and buy from local farmers and producers who are good stewards of our natural resources, and to apply the same principles of conservation to your own home . . . Once you have mastered a few dishes by making them repeatedly – such as a dinner of roast chicken with oven-roasted potatoes and turnips, and a garden salad with garlic vinaigrette – you will be rewarded with satisfying meals and a great sense of accomplishment. There is enormous pleasure in cooking good food simply and in sharing the cooking and the eating with friends and family.

So without further squabbling, I made my way to the grocer, bought the best looking organic, happily-lived-happily-died whole chicken, and I roasted it. This just may change a few things. Though I am still a bit squeamish about handling raw meat, in the end, it was delicious, easy, satisfying – and enough left over for chicken salad sandwiches the next day.

Roast Chicken with Autumn Vegetables

adapted loosely from Thomas Keller’s recipe in The Green Kitchen, Alice Waters

The vegetables make a bed for the chicken and prop it up so that it browns nicely, and the juices from the roasting bird permeate through the vegetables that caramelize on the bottom of the pot.

1 three-pound chicken
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
3 potatoes, peeled and thickly slices
2 onions, peeled and quartered
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 apples, one diced, one whole
3 springs fresh rosemary
2 to 3 tablespoons butter

  1. First prepare the chicken (a day or two ahead, if possible.) To remove the wishbone at the top of the breast, use a small knife to scrape along the bone to expose it, then insert the knife and run it along the bone, separating it from the flesh. Use your fingers to loosen it further, grasp the tip of the wishbone, and pull it out. Tuck the wing tips back and under the neck.

  2. Tying the chicken plumps the breast up and brings the legs into position for even roasting. Cut a length of cotton string. With the chicken on its back, slip the string under the tail and bring the ends up over the legs to form a figure eight. Loop over the end of each leg and draw the strings tight to bring the legs together. Draw the string back under the legs and wings on either side of the neck. Pull tight, wrap one end around the neck, and tie off the two ends. Salt the chicken evenly inside and out. Season liberally with fresh-ground pepper. Place apple and rosemary springs inside cavity of chicken.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F, put all the vegetables, apple, rosemary, and olive oil together in the bottom of a large, heavy ovenproof pot, and season with salt and pepper. Set the chicken on top, dot with the butter, and roast uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes (or longer), depending on the size of the chicken. It is done when the leg joint is pierced with a knife and the juices run clear, not pink.

  4. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before carving, and serve family-style with all of the caramelized vegetables and juices from the pot on a platter and the chicken pieces on top.

 

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One Response to “Roast Chicken with Autumn Vegetables”

  1. […] Roast Chicken with Autumn Veggies from Support Future Artists — this will be perfect as I’ll use the leftovers for chicken […]

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