Friday, November 16, 2012
Roasted Chicken: Variations on a Theme
Roasted chicken is, without question, one of the top two favorites for dinner around our house. Simple, delicious, satisfying and relatively quick to put on the table, it's both a company-worthy entree and a warming mid-week meal. If you buy a big enough bird, you might have enough left over to make a pot pie, soup or hearty chicken salad. Plus the carcass is terrific for stock.
James Beard is my go-to guy in terms of method, the chicken roasting on a bed of sautéed vegetables. Which means that they gradually roast in the fat and juices from the bird, a brilliant idea that provides a ready-made side dish from the vegetables and a killer base for gravy from the juices.
The other night I was getting ready to roast a chicken and, instead of mashing potatoes, I was going to roast some delicata squash that had been sitting around waiting to be of service. That's when the lightbulb went off—you've no doubt already guessed this, but I can be a little slow sometimes—and I chopped up onion and garlic, gave it a quick sauté, then combined it with the squash.
The rest, as they say, is history…and something I'm going to keep playing with using other vegetables. Stay tuned!
Roasted Chicken with Squash
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 small delicata squash, seeded and cut in 1/2" cubes, about 3 cups or so*
1/2 c. white wine or dry vermouth
1 roasting chicken
Handful of fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme or tarragon)
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Pour 2 Tbsp. oil into a frying pan and saute onions, carrots and celery (or whatever vegetables you might have) till slightly tender but not fully cooked. Place in mixing bowl with cubed squash and combine. Put squash mixture in 9" by 12" Pyrex casserole dish. Pour wine over vegetables.
Rub chicken with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, throw 1 tsp. or so salt and the lemon and herbs into the cavity and place the chicken on its side on top of the vegetables. Place in oven and roast for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, turn chicken on its other side and roast for another 25 minutes. Remove from oven, turn chicken so it is breast-side up, baste with pan juices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast another 15 minutes, remove and baste, then roast a final 20 minutes or, for our tastes, until an instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees on the inside of the lower thigh. Remove from oven, allow to rest for 10 minutes. We cut it into pieces, but the breasts we remove whole and slice crosswise.
* The skin of delicatas is thin, so don't bother peeling it…just eat as is. Other winter squash would work just as well, but peel them before cubing.