Over the years that I’ve been cooking food, one of my go-to favorites is roasting a good free-range or organic chicken to keep the kitchen warm, comfy, and well stocked for meals during the coming work week. I use a simple technique from Alice Water’s Simple Food Cookbook to almost always keep my roasted chicken cooked perfectly. First by roasting it at 400 F degrees breast side up for 20 minutes, then 20 minutes breast down, and finishing it a final 20 minutes by cooking it one more time breast up to brown the skin and cook it through. I put a little spin on this dish by adding chopped vegetables as a bed for the chicken to roast on a flat hotel pan. This technique captures the essence of the chicken and any of the wonderful juices that drop into the pan can be absorbed into the vegetables. I think roasting the chicken with the vegetables add a perfect balance of flavors to a dish that is perfect for the fall and winter vegetables and equally ideal with spring and summer vegetables.
- One small to medium chicken (Preferably organic or free-range chicken for the best taste!)
- Vegetables for roasting. I used carrots, parsnips, onions, and red potatoes. I like to keep my vegetables seasonal. I usually roast root vegetables in this dish. I sometimes add whole small tomatoes in the summer. Feel free to be creative!
- 2 large onions or 3 small onions
- Olive oil
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Herbs (Rosemary, Sage, Thyme)
- Dry or stale bread. I usually keep my old bread in the freezer. It isn’t necessary to include the bread in this recipe.
- 1 fresh lemon if needed or desired for added acidity to the chicken and roasted vegetables.
First use salt and pepper to season the whole chicken and try to get the chicken to room temperature at least an hour before you roast it. During this time you can stuff the chicken with herbs in the cavity of the chicken or you can cut slits into the skin and put herbs under the skin.
Turn the oven on to 400 F degrees to preheat the oven for roasting.
Clean and cut your vegetables into smaller pieces that will make the vegetables with the chicken cook equally. You can have a look at the pieces in the above photo that I cut to give you a sense of size.
Cut the bread into small pieces close to equal size. Not too small because you can burn them but not too big because you want them to absorb the flavors of the chicken.
Combine the vegetables and bread in a large bowl. Season with salt, pepper, fresh herbs, and olive oil. You can decide how much olive oil you want but I prefer to go lighter with olive oil because the goal here is to get the juice and fat from the chicken to coat the vegetables.
Place the vegetables and bread on a flat hotel pan.
Place the chicken on the vegetables breast side up.
When the oven is at 400 F degrees put the chicken and vegetables in the oven on the middle rung of the oven. If your oven tends to burn the tops of food place the pan with the vegetables and chicken on a lower rung. Close the oven.
Turn the timer on for 20 minutes.
After the first 20 minutes quickly pull the pan out and put it on a stable heat resistant surface. Quickly and carefully remove the chicken and place it on a plate. Take a spatula and move the vegetables around the pan. Pay attention to where the juices have dripped on the pan. Try to combine the drippings with the vegetables to coat them evenly. Don’t worry if there isn’t much sauce because you’ll get plenty as the chicken cooks for the next 20 minutes.
Quickly put the chicken back breast side down on the pan with the vegetables and place it back in the oven to cook for another 20 minutes.
After the second 20 minutes pull the pan out again and repeat the step of carefully and quickly pulling the chicken off the hotel pan and stirring the vegetables to absorb the drippings from the pan. Be sure to try and scrape any of the vegetables that have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan. Do not remove them. Simply stir them. Also, if you notice any of the vegetables starting to cook faster than other vegetables you can place them under the chicken. Place the chicken breast side up and put it back into the oven for another 20 minutes.
After the final 20 minutes, pull the chicken and vegetables out of the oven and investigate what you’ve cooked. You can tell that the chicken is cooked if you look at where the thigh meets the body of the chicken and see if it comes apart easily when you pull it. If it doesn’t looked cooked, put it in the oven for another 5 minutes. If the vegetables look like they will not take another 5 minutes, quickly take the vegetables off the pan and place it into a large bowl and put the chicken back into the oven.
When the chicken is cooked place it onto a chopping board. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes. During this time you can mix the vegetables and season them to taste. I like adding a little lemon juice for acidity.
Carve the chicken when ready and plate the vegetables first and then plate the chicken on top. I usually make a little salad to go with this dish but in the photo I just added some arugula leaves for some fresh textures and flavors.