The Rest of the Meal– Simple Roast Chicken Dinner

The stack of praline pecan bars has dwindled to a single layer in less than twenty-four hours– a true test to their appeal, at least to my husband.  Ken claims he doesn’t like pecans, but that statement is eerily similar to a previous and now debunked 8-year claim that he doesn’t like peanuts; today he asks for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in his lunch box and rushes to scoop out peanuts to crack open whenever we go to Five Guys.  No matter on the pecan rejection– more bars for the rest of us.

As I mentioned in my last post, I roasted chicken over onions, chubby fingerling potatoes in duck fat and boiled green beans that I tossed with lemon and butter.  I like roasting the chicken over onions because the juices from the chicken mix with the onions during the roasting process and, voila, you have a sauce!  No roux-making or whisking involved.  The onions caramelize and often burn, but mixed with the pan juices and seasonings (for me, just salt and pepper), you have a condiment for your meat that is part sauce, part chutney.  Kurt and I will often fish out the onions and slather them on baguette…our version of crostini!

If you’re a foodie and haven’t had potatoes roasted in duck fat, you are plain missing out on one of the ultimate gastronomical pleasures.  I usually roast my potatoes in olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, but when I have duck fat, all I need is a little salt and pepper.  Duck fat is costly, but you don’t need a lot and you can store it for a LONG time in the freezer.  I make my own, rendering from duck skin I’ve kept tucked away in the freezer after I’ve made duck ragu (with Kurt’s homemade pappardelle, but that’s another post).

Fingerlings tossed with duck fat, salt and pepper, oven roasting in my favorite cast iron pan

I’m just posting the recipe for the roast chicken.  The roasted fingerlings require you to find duck fat (D’Artagnan is the brand name I have found); the potatoes roast best in a cast iron skillet.  As for my green beans, I do them ahead of time by parboiling, shocking and reheating to toss with the lemon and butter.  Although it’s a multi-step process, it allows me to control the timing of dishes better, especially when I have any kind of roast to carve.

Roast Chicken with Onions

  • 1 4-5 lb chicken
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • softened unsalted butter
  • several onions, sliced (enough to cover the roasting pan)
  • olive oil

I preheated the oven to 425 degrees.  Here are my contenders; you can see I have 4 onions, but they were on the small side.  I needed enough to cover the bottom of that pan in the background.

The origins of a tasty dinner…

Earlier, I had removed the little packet of organs from within the chicken, rinsed out the cavity and body surface, then set it on top of a platter layered with paper towels.  I let the chicken “dry out” in the fridge until I was ready to make dinner.  I do this so the skin will be super crispy (but I have insurance for that as you’ll see later).

I sliced the onions and broke the slices into rings to spread into the roasting.  I drizzled the onion layer with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, then tossed to combine.

The bed of flavor

I took the chicken out of the refrigerator and dried off the skin and cavity with a paper towel.  Note: this is the side of the chicken you want face up; the drumsticks are on top (this is the tail end of the chicken) and the wings are in the back on the bottom.  The top of the chicken is the breast.

Drying off the bird

I then trimmed off any excess pieces of fat since they are unnecessary and will render out too much fat.

Remove excess fat!

I  seasoned the inside of the cavity simply, with just salt and pepper.  Sometimes I’ll add herbs or lemons, but this time I went easy.

Season the cavity– I rotate the bird so I can get the S&P everywhere.

It was time to tuck the wing tips under the bird.  First, I extended the wing away from the body to get to the tip:

Pull the tip out first…

Then I tucked it under the bird:

Then tuck the tip under. This prevents burning and it just looks better!

I generously salted and peppered the skin all over, and grabbed a nob of softened butter:

Use softened butter!

I massaged the butter all over the chicken; the seasons will mix with the butter, but that’s fine.  It’s messy, but the resulting crispy skin is worth it:

My insurance for crispy skin!

I also separated the breast from the skin and rubbed whatever butter and seasonings I had on my fingers in that space, just to ensure the white meat stays moist:

It’s fairly easy to pull the skin away from the breast meat; make sure you do both sides…

I plopped the bird on top of the onions.

Just need to tie up those legs!

All that I had to do before popping this bird into the oven is to tie up the legs.  This promotes even roasting, and again, just looks better:

Use kitchen twine, not just some generic string you have lying around the house…

Typically, you will need to roast the chicken for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  There are a couple of ways to check if the bird is done: 1) cut the skin between the leg and breast– the juices should run clear and 2) use an instant-read thermometer in the thigh, closer to the body cavity without hitting any bone.  The temperature should be 170 degrees.  I roasted this chicken (it was five pounds) for 1.5 hours; I used both methods to check for doneness.  I let the chicken rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

Do ya see that skin??!!

I know I should have taken pictures of how to carve up the chicken, but I had to get Ken fed and off to his riding lesson. Maybe down the road with another chicken roast…  Here’s the final spread:

Simple and delicious

and our own “crostini” (see how good those caramelized onions look)!

Onion jam…

I’m making one of Ken’s favorites tonight using the leftover chicken– chicken and dumplings.  It’s a recipe I learned from Tina’s husband Jeff (he’s one of those Southern boys and it’s yummy)!

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2 Comments

Filed under Family, Food, Main Dishes

2 responses to “The Rest of the Meal– Simple Roast Chicken Dinner

  1. Amy

    This is better than any cookbook! Why does it look so, so easy and then when I do it it looks like it belongs at a tailgate party where everyone is already drunk!

    And to think you take pictures while your doing it…..multi-talented!

    • That’s how it was the first time I tried to cut up a chicken (raw and roasted)– my early attempts were a HOT MESS! You just need to take your time…

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