Roast Chicken and Roots
Root vegetables are abundant in fall and winter, but they can be a little daunting: grubby and odd, and what on earth do you do with them? But roasting concentrates their sweetness, making them a natural for kids, even skeptical ones. Here, they roast below a whole chicken for an economical one-dish meal with the added benefit of soup later: just simmer the bones for a few hours with fresh carrots, onions, and celery, then strain, salt, and add a handful of pasta or rice.
Hands-On Time: 30 minutes
Ready In: 2 hours
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 4-pound chicken, preferably organically raised 2 tablespoons butter, softened kosher salt 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled 1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme (or a large pinch dried) 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use 1 onion, sliced thick 1 cup chicken broth 2 pounds root vegetables: carrots, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, peeled as necessary and cut into 1-inch chunks. (Fennel is a nice addition, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.)
- Heat the oven to 450. Rinse the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels, then rub it all over with the butter. Using 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt), salt it inside and out, then pop the garlic and herbs into its cavity.
- Spread one tablespoon of the olive oil on a 12- by 17-inch rimmed roasting pan, and arrange the onion slices in the center. Rest the chicken on the onion and roast it for 15 minutes, then open the oven door and carefully pour the broth into the pan and roast for another 15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with the remaining tablespoon of oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Remove the chicken from the oven (it will have been roasting for half an hour, so far), and arrange the vegetables around it in a single layer, then return it to the oven and continue roasting.
- Turn the vegetables over after half an hour, add more broth if the pan is dry, and roast another 15-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are browned and tender.
- Remove the chicken to a cutting board to rest before carving, remove the veggies to a heat-proof serving bowl and pop them back in the warm oven (turn the heat off), and, if you like, scrape the pan juices and onions into a small pot and reduce over medium heat to make a simple pan sauce (spoon the grease off first, if there's a lot).
- Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables and pan sauce.