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Menu Monday: Ultimate Anniversary Roast Chicken Dinner

Aaaaand we’re back. So, yes, I know it’s been rawther a while; mea culpa. But, after a nice fallow period, I’m feeling SO ready to get back into the swing of things and what better place to get started than with a very special, full-on, roast chicken dinner all-in-one recipe?

This is so good, in fact, that I’m pretty sure it’s Mr. T’s favorite dinner ever–which is a bit of a relief since I really have been doing this on at least a weekly basis for months. And even being in heavy rotation already, it still got the nod for our Valentine’s Day/10th anniversary dinner.

I don’t know what’s more amazing: that roast chicken, out of all the ridiculously fancy things I’ve made, seriously tops his dinner list, or that he’s been willing to put up with me for that long. Well, no looking gift horses in mouths here!

Having tinkered with this preparation countless times (well, like, at LEAST 15…) over the past few months, I’ve finally honed the process down to a point where you get trancendently juicy, flavorful chicken–bright with mustard, lemon, and herbs–along with savory potatoes and vibrant green veggies in the most efficient way possible. No extra pans, extra pots, or extra work. We have achieved maximum deliciousness with minimum fuss.

And while it’s not exactly in Rachael Ray territory in terms of turn around time, it’s still quite spectacularly fast for what you get out of it. Totally doable on a weeknight if organized. As you’ll see, there’s not a lot of ingredients and all the bits and pieces have been rolled up into one long recipe–but don’t let that stop you. You’re really only a few paragraphs away from the best homemade roast chicken dinner ever.

Roast Chicken Dinner with Potatoes & Vegetables
Serves: ~3 people

1 whole chicken, ~3lbs or so
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (scant if dense, full if fluffy)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp good Dijon mustard
zest & juice of 1/2 lemon (keep the juiced half)
2 tsp minced herb (tarragon, thyme, rosemary)
2-3 sprigs of same herb
2 lb potatoes (profligate baby potatoes are lovely and quick)
2 lb green veg (green beans, asparagus, broccoli, whatever)
1 3′ length kitchen twine
1 roasting pan with rack
1 3-4 qt saucepan, with lid
1 steamer basket

Preheat oven to 400F.

Assemble your mise en place for the chicken: Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl, set aside. Combine the mustard, lemon zest, juice, and minced herbs in another small bowl and set aside. Cut your kitchen twine and have it at the ready, along with the roasting pan with rack, the juiced lemon half, the herb sprigs, and a short stack of paper towels.

Wash your hands and address the chicken: Remove the chicken from its packaging and place it breast-up in the pan on the rack with the chicken butt facing you. Pat the chicken dry inside and out with the paper towels. Carefully discard the paper towels and chicken packaging. Rub a bit of the salt and pepper mixture into the chicken cavity and stuff in the herb sprigs and juiced lemon half.

Using your fingers, carefully separate the chicken skin from the breast without tearing it. work from the pointed back end of the breast towards the front of the bird on either side of the breast bone. If you can wriggle around and down into the thigh area, so much the better. Gently spread the mustard mixture between the skin and the meat getting it as far into the various crevices as possible. Pull the skin back into place and tuck the wingtips underneath the breast.

Rinse your hands and truss the bird: With the chicken still facing away from you, loop the twine under the breast (but over the wings) and pull the twine back along the sides of the breast towards you. Crossing beneath the pointed butt-end of the breast, loop the twine around each leg and pull taught. The breast should plump up in a heart shape and the legs should be touching each other and the bottom tip of the breast. Tie securely.

Season that bird: Rub half the remaining salt and pepper mixture over the chicken, again working it into creases and crevices. Flip the bird over and rub back/bottom of bird with remaining mixture.

Roast: Put chicken (still back/bottom side up) in the preheated oven and roast for 30 minutes.

Prep vegetables: Rinse potatoes and cut into large, even (~2 inch) pieces if necessary. Rinse and trim green veg appropriately. Fill saucepan with enough water to touch the bottom of the steamer basket. Set all aside.

Carry on with chicken: After 30 minutes roasting time has elapsed, remove the roasting pan from the oven and using large tongs or hands protected with paper towels, turn the chicken breast side up. Set timer for 15 minutes.

Parcook potatoes: put the potatoes in the prepped saucepan (water, steamer) and turn the heat to high.

Add potatoes to chicken: After the 15 minutes are up, carefully remove the steamer basket of potatoes from the sauce pan, and dump the potatoes (only, not the water) into the roasting pan around the chicken. Return chicken and potatoes to the oven and set the timer for another 15-20 minutes. Return the steamer basket to the saucepan and top up the water if necessary. Set aside.

Finishing up: After the final 15 minutes have elapsed, check the chicken; if both the thigh and breast have reached at least 165F remove the pan from the oven and, using tongs, remove the chicken from the pan, pouring any juices in the cavity back into the roasting pan with the potatoes. (the most likely place to be underdone in the preparation is not the thigh but the center of the breast, so check both) Place the chicken on a cutting board to rest briefly. Remove the rack from the pan, leaving the potatoes and the chicken juices. Toss potatoes gently and return to oven so the potatoes are ~6″ from the broiler element. Turn broiler on high.

Place vegetables in the steamer basket and turn heat to high. Peek at potatoes, and give a shake if need be. After about 5 minutes, the green veg should be done. remove pan from heat and drain saucepan. Check potatoes again. If crisped a bit and beginning to brown, perfect. Remove the roasting pan from the oven.

On a medium serving platter, pile the potatoes at one end. Dump the cooked, drained green vegetables into the empty roasting pan and give them a quick toss in the remaining juices. Place them onto the platter.

Cut the breasts from the chicken and slice into medallions, Slide the sliced breasts onto the green vegetables. Cut the legs and thighs from the chicken and place also onto the vegetables on the platter. Pull off the wings and place on the platter too.

Serve immediately.

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