Easy Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

Simple Roasted chicken with root vegetables.

Simple Roasted chicken with root vegetables.

One of my favorite cold weather go-to dinners is a whole roasted chicken.  You just need a couple of minutes to get it ready for the oven and then you can sit back and relax while it cooks!  Cook it with some veggies all in the same pan and all you’ll have to do when it comes out of the oven is slice it without burning yourself! Plus, if you use an organic, pasture-raised (and hopefully local) bird, you can also save the carcass to make homemade chicken broth afterwards. Probably the best thing ever for keeping us healthy in the winter!

I used to be really intimidated by cooking whole chickens (or any other roast).  All the recipes I’d see on TV or online all seemed so complicated.  They all had me believing you had to truss it up with kitchen twine, stuff it or don’t stuff it, put herbs under the skin and aromatics in the cavity, and rub various fats and seasonings on the skin.  Jeez! Can’t I just cook the darn thing?? It seemed like way too many ways for things to go wrong and too many steps that may not matter all that much in the end result.

This is a simple recipe.  No fuss. No truss!!  Does trussing and all that junk make for a more flavorful or tender bird? Probably. But I’ve never had anyone turn up their nose or say that the meat from my bird was too dry or that it was not flavorful.  There are some things in life I can’t be bothered with and tying up a dead bird before I cook it’s carcass for an hour and half is one of them.  It’s not like it’s going to try to escape. Maybe for a special occasion you want to go the extra mile and make a fancy bird, but some of us just want to get dinner on the table on a Wednesday night without wrestling with poultry.

Cook it with some veggies all in the same pan and all you’ll have to do when it comes out of the oven is slice it without burning yourself! Plus, if you use an organic, pasture-raised (and hopefully local) bird, you can also save the carcass to make homemade chicken broth afterwards. Probably the best thing ever for keeping us healthy in the winter!

This recipe takes 90 minutes to cook.  I realize that is an asinine amount of time to make dinner for the average day of the week so there are a few options for this:
1. Make it on the weekend.
2. Make it AFTER dinner one night and eat it the next evening. It reheats beautifully.
3. Chop the veggies & prepare the chicken etc the night before, store in the fridge and pop in the oven as soon as you get home.  It’s hands free for 90 minutes so you can get lots of other things done, like your work out, laundry or helping kids out with homework.

Feel free to swap out these particular root veggies for other winter vegetables that you may have on hand or prefer.  Parsnips, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and winter squashes all work well too!

This makes 4 servings.

Ingredients
5 lb whole organic chicken, giblets removed
optional: 1 head of garlic, top sliced off (to expose cloves)
2 medium beets, peeled, cut into 1.5 inch chunks
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 onion, peeled, cut in half and each half cut into thirds
2 large carrots, peeled, sliced into 2 inch lengths
1 turnip or rutabaga, peeled, cut into 2 inch or so chunks
1.5 cups roughly chopped dandelion greens, tatsoi, mizuna or baby spinach
1 tbsps olive oil, melted coconut oil or pasture butter
sea salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss the beets, potatoes, onion, carrots and turnip/rutabaga with the olive oil or coconut oil in a large roasting pan (if you care about presentation, you may want to toss the beets separately as they will coat everything red!).  The pan needs to be large enough to accommodate both a 5lb bird and all the vegetables at the same time.  I use one that is large enough for roasting a 20 lb turkey.  Sprinkle sea salt and black pepper on the vegetables.

Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the bird and if using the garlic, insert inside.  The garlic will add some flavor to the veggies and to the chicken but not so much that it’s absolutely necessary.  It WILL make your house smell amazing and make you hungry. Just a warning.

Make a bit of a well in the center of the roasting pan by moving the veggies towards the sides of the pan and insert the chicken in to the well. Liberally salt the skin of the bird (especially if you plan to eat it).  There is no need to add oil or butter to the skin (for this recipe anyway!).

Cook the chicken and vegetables for 90 minutes or until the juices in the thigh run clear when you insert a knife into the thickest part of the thigh.  Normally, I don’t need to do anything at all while this meal cooks (except maybe enjoy a glass of wine) but once in awhile you get a bird that doesn’t seem to release much liquid.  If that happens, you’ll start to smell burning (usually from the most sugary of veggies in your roast).  To fix that, give the veggies a gentle stir and add a few tablespoons of water or stock to the pan and continue cooking as normal.  A little browning adds delicious flavor – no one wants burnt vegetables though.

Going back to inserting a knife into a thigh to see if juices run clear . . .if you are wary of this as a gage of “doneness”, insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh for a reading of 160 degrees.  Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before cutting.  The temperature gage will continue to rise and letting the bird sit before cutting will help it to retain juices.

After 15 minutes, remove the bird from the pan and carve for serving.  Stir the greens (mizuna, tatsoi, baby spinach etc) into the roasted root vegetables (in all the delicious chicken juices, fat and gelatin – don’t be grossed out, that’s good stuff!). They will wilt somewhat but should remain vibrantly green. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve the chicken and veggies with a dollop of dijon mustard on the side for the chicken (at least that’s how I like it lately!).

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