As I grow older, there are a few dishes that I become more and more interested in perfecting - ones that never would have interested me five years ago. When I first realized how much I loved to cook and then became comfortable in the kitchen I would pick very elaborate recipes and esoteric ingredients to experiment with. There was one year where I picked out a new random, ingredient every other week and had to figure out how to cook it. That experimentation led to my realization that I love roasted cauliflower and brussel sprouts, prefer Japanese/Asian eggplant to Italian eggplant, and that there are some things better left to restaurants to prepare. It also taught me that experimentation in the kitchen can be quite expensive! But now that I have tried most things I am interested in at least once, I keep coming back to simpler dishes - like the perfect roast chicken. Not too long ago I got to try some roast chicken prepared by Jonathan Waxman, who is the indisputable king of roast chicken. It was amazing. The skin was nice and crispy, rather than flaccid and/or rubbery, and the meat itself was both juicy and flavorful. After that I remembered that there was a recipe for roast chicken that Elia made in Season 2 of Top Chef that everyone raved about. Luckily I have the cookbook and we had everything we needed for it (minus the chicken itself that is).
We were supposed to make this chicken last night for a dinner party, but there ended up being a change of plans and we ended up going out for Mexican instead. So Alex and I downsized the ingredients for the recipe, including the chicken, and made it for ourselves tonight. As the chicken roasted the apartment started to smell fantastic. You could smell the thyme, the mushrooms, and the smells of roasting meat. And it was delicious. I think that the vegetables could have used a touch more salt (salt them generously!) and the potatoes were a little undercooked, but the chicken was fantastic. The breasts were juicy, the skin was nice and crispy and the chicken drippings were delicious when you dipped a nice baguette in them - buttery and rich. I'm not sure that this is the ultimate roast chicken recipe, so I might keep looking, but it was a definite winner in my book.
Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
Adapted from Top Chef: The Cookbook
3 lb. organic roasting chicken, rinsed and patted dry
4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened, plus 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
5 small carrots, cut into chunks on the diagonal
1 medium zucchini, thickly sliced
6 oz. button mushrooms, stemmed and halved
1/2 lb. potatoes, halved
3 medium spring onions, quartered
1/3 cup low sodium chicken stock
4 fresh rosemary sprigs, plus more for garnish
8 fresh thyme sprigs, plus more for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Brush chicken with softened butter. Sprinkle generously inside and out with s&p. Tie the legs loosely together. In a large bowl, combine the carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, potatoes, and onions. Add the melted butter and toss to coat. Season with s&p to taste. Put chicken in a roasting pan and scatter vegetables around the chicken.
Roast the chicken for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, turning the vegetables a few times to evenly brown them, until the chicken is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and cut into serving pieces. Place the chicken on plates and using a slotted spoon, remove the veggies from the pan and place them alongside the chicken.
Garnish with fresh rosemary and thyme. Serve immediately.