Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Favorite Weeknight Meal - Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is my go to meal for weeknights when I want something satisfying but with little work.  Just start with a good quality roaster chicken.  I like Bell & Evans but something free-range from your local farmers market should give you good results as well.  This meal takes me about 10 mins to get in the oven and then it requires little other tending.

Simple Roast Chicken
four pound roasting chicken
1 large sweet onion
1/2 bag baby carrots
4- 6 yukon gold potatoes, depending on their size
2 large garlic cloves
1 lemon
2 tbls butter - melted
olive oil
1 loaf of bread - I like ciabatta for this but you can use any type of whole loaf bread you like.


Preheat the oven to 425.

Slice the onion into 1/3 inch rings and separate.  Cut the potatoes into chunks, about 4 -6 pieces per potato.  Put these and the 1/2 bag of carrots onto a cookie sheet.  Drizzle the veggies with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) and season with salt (about 3/4 teaspoon) and pepper (1/2 teaspoon).

Rinse the chicken inside and out, pat dry.  Season the chicken, inside and out, generously with salt and pepper.  Create a chicken-sized hole in the veggies and place the chicken on the cookie sheet.  Smash each clove of garlic.  Cut the lemon into four wedges.  Place lemon and garlic inside the chicken cavity.  Brush the top of the chicken all over with the melted butter.

Roast the chicken in the oven, at 425, for 1 1/2 hours.  About every 30 mins give the veggies a toss around the cookie sheet.  The veggies will get pretty dark brown as they cook - this is good!  If they appear to be cooking too quickly for your tastes, just remove them and reserve them in a dish.

The chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the dark meat registers 170 or a slice made between the leg and the body runs clear juices.  When the chicken is done, place it on a cutting board, cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.  THIS STEP IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESS!  This resting allows for the chicken to cool slightly and for the juices to redistribute into the meat. If you cut into the chicken to early, all the juices run out and they are lost - result: dry meat.

While the chicken is resting, cut your bread in half (if you are using ciabatta) or in 1 inch slices if you are using a bigger bread.  Brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  If you have a grill handy, grill the bread until it is crispy and browned.  If not, just place it under your broiler for the same effect - about 3 - 5 minutes.  Chop the grilled bread into 1 inch cubes.  Place the bread in a layer at the bottom of your serving dish.


To serve the chicken I first cut off both legs and wings, then separate the thigh from the drumstick.  Place these pieces on the bread layer.  Then I slice off both breasts and cut them into 4 -5 pieces.  This allows everyone to have some of each type of meat.  Place this on the bread cubes.  Pour the veggies, pan juices, and any leftover juice from cutting up the chicken over the serving dish.  The bread will soak up all the juice and flavor (sorry Mona and Ash - its a soggy bread dish).

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