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Friday, November 6, 2009

roasted chicken with fall vegetables

there are 3 key reasons why i like roasting a whole chicken. the first is that it reminds me of what henery hawk sees in foghorn leghorn. the second is that it's an easy one-pan endeavor that will feed a couple of people for a couple of days. third, i get 3-4 quarts of stock from the bones.

on my most recent re-examnation of my diet i gave some extra thought to eating meat. i've always been an omnivore, with some restrictions in place, but after learning more and more about the impact that the meat industry has on the environment and on our health, it turned my stomach one too many times.

but, i like meat. i like chicken. i like steak and bacon. i decided on a compromise-- that i would buy meat from local farms, and, since the local stuff is more expensive, buy less of it. as a result we eat more vegetarian meals which, according to current dietary and environmental analysis, is not a bad thing at all.

but anyway-- back to the chicken...

this organic pastured bird came from stokesberry farms in olympia, washington. it cost around $5/lb, which at 3.44 lbs is not cheap. even so, 20 bucks for dinner for two people for at least two nights is not bad. figure in the 20 bucks worth of stock i get from the bones and the math starts to look pretty good.

i've consulted many different recipes over the years and usually combine aspects of each one to cook a bird. the most recent i found incorporated fresh bay leaves under the skin of the breast so i decided to throw that method into the mix this time.

my understanding about tying up the bird is that it holds the wings and thighs in close to the body so that everything cooks evenly. but i don't really know. sometimes i don't ask questions, i just do what i'm told. (to be clear, this only applies in the kitchen.) i couldn't find string at our local grocery, but the butcher there was kind enough to give me about 20 yards of hers.

roasted chicken with fall vegetables

  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 whole roasting chicken
  • 2 carrots, chopped in 1" thick pieces
  • 2 parsnips, chopped in 1" thick pieces
  • 2 waxy potatoes such as yukon gold, chopped in chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped in chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, left whole or cut in half
  • (other vegetables can be substituted: turnips, celery root, etc.)
  • 8 cloves garlic, left whole

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup (about) chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. Rinse chicken; pat dry. Separate the skin from the breast meat and insert fresh bay leaves. Place chicken in roasting pan. Rub garlic-thyme oil over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place lemon, 1 bay leaf, 2 garlic cloves, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme in cavity of chicken. Tie legs with string. (from Tyler's Ultimate roasted chicken recipe: Using 2 3-foot pieces of kitchen twine, tie up the chicken: Tuck the wing tips between the wings and the body. Put the midpoint of the twine under the chicken, bring the ends up and around the wings, and pull them tight against the body. Bring the ends of the twine up underneath the legs, wrap the string around them, pull the legs together, and tie them tightly.)
Roast chicken 20 minutes. Remove from oven and add vegetables to pan, except the mushrooms.
Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Roast chicken until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of inner thigh registers 180°F, about 1 hour 15 minutes, adding mushrooms to the pan about 20-30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
Lift chicken and tilt slightly, emptying juices from cavity into saute pan. Tent chicken with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Add wine to pan with juices from chicken and veggies; place over high heat. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Add enough chicken broth to cup to measure 1 1/2 cups. Whisk flour into broth mixture. Boil broth mixture until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Season pan-juice mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chicken and vegetables, passing pan-juice mixture separately.

i'd never worked with fresh bay before-- SO fragrant! maybe even too fragrant. it was still great-- chicken pretty much tastes like chicken-- but i suspect the bay treatment is best when there aren't a lot of other flavors competing with it. still, an absolutely excellent several meals. the pan gravy can be skipped, but it is delicious and adds a lot to the dish, and it's especially useful when you're having the leftovers. yum!

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