Thursday, May 1, 2014

Roast Chicken with Carrots & Fennel

This changes every time I make it because I just use what I have on hand for vegetables, but this particular combination is my favorite. It's an easy prep, easy clean-up, one dish meal. Serves 4

1 pasture-raised whole chicken, all visible fat trimmed off
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 yellow onion, thickly sliced
1 large shallot, thickly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cut into quarters, then each quarter into thirds (12 pieces total)
8-10 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bundle thyme, tied with twine
1 lemon, halved lengthwise
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Paprika (mild), OR smoked paprika (warm), OR Ras-El-Hanout (hot!), OR any other spice blend you like

Preheat oven to 400*F
Use a roasting pan just big enough to hold the chicken and make one snug layer of vegetables around it. If the pan's too big, the veg will burn.

Prep the vegetables first. Put the carrots, onion, shallot, fennel, and half the garlic in the roasting pan. Coat generously with EVOO, salt & pepper. Use a pair of kitchen scissors and cut off the tops of the thyme onto the vegetables. Push to the outside of the pan to make room for the chicken. 

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cool water and pat dry. If you're lucky enough to have extra skin, leave it on! It will keep the chicken closed up and very moist. My thumb is at the edge of the breast, so you can see there's lots of extra skin on this bird.

Stuff the cavity with the thyme bundle. It will easily fit now that you've cut the tops off. Next put in the rest of the garlic and the two lemon halves, facing up, on top of the thyme. Tie it closed tightly with kitchen twine. See how that extra skin covers the opening so well?

If you have trouble tying it off tightly, try this:
1. Tie a snug half-knot around the little tail on the bottom leaving equal lengths of twine on each side
2. Make a loop around the left drumstick with the left piece of twine and pull twine to the middle
3. Repeat with the right piece of twine and right drumstick
4. Pull the ends tightly together and make a tight knot in the center

Rub the top of the chicken generously with EVOO, salt, pepper and paprika. Roast for an hour or until done. It should be 165 at the thickest part of the thigh on an instant-read thermometer. Baste the chicken and turn the veg a couple of times during the cooking process. Remove from oven, loosely tent with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

While the chicken is resting, you can pour off the pan juices and skim off the extra fat. It's really good over sliced chicken!