By Steph Farrar
It's the first Tuesday after Coachella and I get a sense that everyone is somehow thrilled it's over. Maybe it's my harrowing view of music festivals and grouchy age, but as much as I wish I could escape to the desert for the weekend, embrace complete freedom and walk in circles from one amazing artist stage to another, it just wasn't in my stars. Roasting a bird, however, right up my weekend alley.
I can literally feel myself getting older when I say such things. I grew up in the South, no stranger to live music. It's all I did, what I lived for. When I didn't have an essay due or a soccer game or track meet, I craved a concert. If there was live music by the river on a Sunday, we rugrats managed get a ride to the waterside, sneak cigarettes and maybe a beer and catch Tracy Chapman, Neil Young, Widespread Panic (ugh), Jimmy Buffett. Early mornings turned into super long days, soaking in the humidity, eating funnel cakes and looking for boys we liked, shying away when spotted. That's my kind of music festival.
Life was so simple, so basic. Like a one-pot meal, all year long. I like to think, now our goal is to keep it simple. I don't know about you, but life is just hard sometimes. I feel completely resolved knowing that, embracing it, and forging ahead. And I truly believe that making meals like this roasted chicken and veggies assists in keeping me sane and calm, because it's simple.
I'm usually vehemently against a picture of raw chicken, but this is a tutorial, and I care about you getting this right. Don't be scared!
If you don't already have a roasting pan, this is a great time to purchase one, as well as the grate that floats the bird above, so juices run off and season the vegetables underneath. You can always roast directly in the pan, but I believe flavor is taken to another level when pan-drippings make their way into your recipe.
You want to make sure you pull out the giblets if still inside the cavity. Discard or keep for making broth or gravy, your call. I discard. After rinsing and patting dry, salt and pepper the inside of the bird generously, stuff with two lemon halves, halved garlic and bunch of thyme. Then tuck the wings and tie the feet with kitchen string. Salt and pepper the exterior as well. Use softened (or melted) butter and spread all over.
Let's call our chicken Larry from now on.
Larry goes in the oven by himself, tented with foil for about 45 minutes at 425 degrees. Then get out your chopping block.
Yep, cut it all. Medium chop.
You know that feeling when your whole body rests and sort of lifts away? And you feel a light little hover, a peace, a resolve? I get that way when I watch Ina Garten smoothly instruct me how to cook, plate, entertain, enjoy. I get that way when I hear a tennis ball strike while quietly writing. And when Anthony Bourdain says, really, anything at all. Pure mellow.
There are so many roasted chicken recipes out there, but I always stick to Ina's perfect roast chicken. Cause it's good and so easy. And Sam, like Jeffrey, loves a roasted chicken.
Pure simple. Like 90's jam bands. Like the 90's period.
When your vegetables are all chopped, season with salt and pepper, add a couple glugs of olive oil and a bunch of finely chopped thyme. Once Larry has been in the oven for 45 minutes, pull him out and add your vegetables to the bottom of the pan and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Soooooo easy. Soooo good.
The final touch on this amazing recipe is the gravy. Whatever you do, don't forget the gravy.
And try to keep is simple. Real simple.
Roasted Chicken with Veggies
Adapted from Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken
1 5-6 lb. roasting chicken
1 large bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon halved
1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tbsp melted or softened butter
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots. cut into 2-inch chunks
1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into wedges
6 small red potatoes, halved
freshly ground pepper
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, place rack near the bottom of the oven.
Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Tent with foil to catch the crazy oil popping madness. Roast for 45 minutes.
Remove Larry from the oven and remove rack from pan, carefully. Combine onions, carrots, fennel, and potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of finely chopped thyme (removing as many leaves from sprigs as possible). Spread vegetables around the bottom of the roasting pan and return the chicken on top.
Roast the chicken for an additional 45 minutes (without foil) or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes.
In roasting pan, bring remaining juices to medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Add chicken stock a few tablespoons at a time, constantly whisking the brown bits up and combining with the stock. Slowly add bits of flour, while whisking into a thickish brown gravy. Continue adding stock and flour until you reach your desired thickness.
Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables, drizzle with gravy.