Herb Roasted Chicken with Zucchini, Carrots, Celery, and Onion (Serves 5-6)
I had not roasted a chicken in a long time because facing my weaknesses is something I usually avoid. The problem is my carving skills, not my cooking. The poor bird gets slaughtered twice when I roast a chicken – once at the farm and then again at my table. I've watched demonstration videos until it looks simple, but nothing seems to go right when I start wielding a knife. I hate how clumsy I feel when I make a mess of a pretty chicken, but this past Saturday I attended Knife Skills and Basics at the Salud Cooking School of Whole Foods Market in Alpharetta, Georgia. I handled onions, carrots, celery, peppers, zucchini, apple, and parsley well and gained enough confidence to face another chicken. I roasted one Saturday night and was thrilled with the appearance and flavor that I got. Unfortunately, my vegetable chopping skills did not translate into carving skills even a little bit. I can tell you how to make a beautiful, savory, satisfying, mouth-watering roast chicken, but you're on your own when it is time to carve.
Prep and cook time: 100-110 minutes
1 5 to 6 pound whole chicken
2 to 3 sweet yellow onions
1 large zucchini
2 to 3 carrots
2 to 3 celery stalks
3 to 4 garlic cloves
Avocado or Macadamia Nut oil
Ground black pepper – 1 teaspoon
Dried oregano – 1 tablespoon
Dried thyme – 1 tablespoon
Dried parsley – 1 tablespoon
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Add ground pepper, oregano, thyme, parsley, and salt to a small bowl. Add enough avocado or macadamia nut oil to make a wet paste of the spices. Rub the spice paste over the entire surface of the chicken inside and out, paying special attention to the outside of the bird. Chop one onion into quarters. Peel the garlic cloves. Cut the orange into halves. Stuff the onion quarters, the garlic cloves, and the orange halves inside the bird.
Lay the chicken breast-side up in a rack in a roasting pan. Chop the remaining onion into half-moon slices and scatter the slices in the pan. Set the chicken into the hot oven and let it roast for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the zucchini, carrots, and celery into bite-sized pieces. Remove the chicken from the hot oven and add the chopped vegetables to the bottom of the roasting pan. Dust the vegetables with salt and garlic powder to taste. Add a few cups of water so that the vegetables are half submerged. Drippings from the hot chicken should mix with the water, adding really nice flavor. Return the chicken to the hot oven and let it cook another 60 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven. While you have it out, scoop up some of the liquid in the pan and pour it over the chicken to baste it. Try to pour a few spoonfuls over every square inch of the bird. Stick an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The chicken is done when it reads 165 degrees. If the temperature is less than 165 degrees, return the chicken to the oven and test it again in 5 or 10 minutes. Mine tested at 145 degrees at first and then at 170 degrees 10 minutes later. When the chicken is done, move it to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes to redistribute its juices before carving. Carve the chicken (as best you can) and squeeze the oranges from the cavity over the meat to add flavor. Use a slotted spoon to transfer vegetables to plates for serving.
Notes: I adapted this recipe from Tyler Florence's Ultimate Roast Chicken at FoodNetwork.com. I was shocked at how good it was and plan to get much more practice carving roast chicken over the coming months.