I can hardly believe it is only February and I can check something off my resolution list. While this would be a totally normal pace, I envisioned having to check these off my list come December because I had procrastinated. I also wasn't sure it would be easy. One chicken, one recipe and my search was over. Ina Garten calls this perfect roast chicken and I couldn't agree more. Easy, flavorful, tender and juicy... perfect.
This is my quick pep talk for you who feel like I did about 6 months ago. I use to cook with no chicken that had bones or skin. Just didn't want to deal with it all. when you could have a lovely boneless, skinless chicken breast any time you wanted. Skin was messy and bones kinda freaked me out. So yes, I went as far into chicken recipes as boneless, skinless chicken breasts would allow. Until I finally roasted chicken breasts on the bone and realized this was the absolute only way to make chicken for things like chicken salad and soups. I will admit it took me a few minutes to handle a whole chicken without thinking about the chicken that it once was running around a little farm somewhere... it just looks so much like a... chicken. Those little wings... thos little legs... okay, not helping my point. Needless to say, I got over it and this is an easy to prepare, new go-to meal.
Quartering the fennel...
1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
2-4 small red skinned potatoes, quartered
A roasting pan or pot
Meat thermometer (optional, but extremely helpful)
Any large pan or some kind of dutch oven (like le creuset pots) will work as a roasting pan. It is good to have something deep so that none of your veggies fall out, but even a glass casserole dish can work. If you do not have kitchen string, it is worth picking up a roll. You can buy it from places like Central Market or Sur la Table, but some grocery stores carry it as well. I added small potatoes because I had some on hand, but they cook wonderfully and helped this be a more complete one pot meal, so I think they were worth adding.
Step by Step
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets from inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and pat the outside dry. 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. Place the onions, carrots, potatoes and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.
Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until a meat thermometer register 160 in the breast meat.Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.