The Roasted Chicken. It may seem scary, and truth be told, I haven’t roasted many this year. And then every time I do, I’m like “that just increased my soul’s understanding of the universe” and “it’s so darn simple”. Not too shabby for an oven bird, right? Well then, what’s the hold up? I think I’ve identified it–the main reason I don’t roast a chicken! And it’s a very North American excuse:
“I don’t have time!”
And to quell the “there’s no time” fear, there are the multiple shortcuts, the Instant Pots, the crockpots… many ways to cook up chicken in more time-efficient manners. But sometimes it’s OK to let the beauty of a dish speak for itself. Because listen… if this dish were complex in preparation and execution–bye, see ya, not interested. But it’s just not. This dish includes one knife, some veggies, a dish and a chicken. It mostly require about an hour and fourty-five minutes of you being at home. Not at the stove, not checking on things–just at home. If you can give yourself that time to be in a savory, warm and roast-perfumed abode, I think you’re really going to like this one.
Garlic, grapes and… hot lemon?
The beauty of allowing your oven to be on for close to two hours is that the consistent heat plays up the strengths imbedded deep within the grapes, carrots, garlic and lemon. You’ll notice that whole lemon wedges are included in this dish, and same goes for whole grapes. When exposed to heat, the bright and intensely flavored lemon rind and pith become lulled into quiet fierceness, with all the palate-overwhelming bitterness reduced to a mere hint. The whole head of garlic can baste in the drippings released from the chicken as it cooks, changing the garlic from zippy sinus-clearer to caramelized perfection. Trust me when I tell you that roasting a chicken is so, so worth it.
And if we keep waxing poetic about these simple vegetables and fruits, then I’m here to also say that cooked lemon peel is a source of those lovely bioflavanoids you’ve likely read about by now, which play integral parts in our capillary health, ability to properly detoxify and keeping our tickers happy throughout our lives. Again, not too shabby for a part of the lemon we always throw away, huh?
Slowing down to speed up.
So, I implore you to try this out. Heck, this could be the bird that’s cooking during dinner, or while you’re doing laundry on a weeknight. It doesn’t have to be cooked just before it’s eaten. You can meal-prep this dish, and let the whole process just take its time. Or on the other hand, you could always allow this dish to be its glorious self for a main meal (Sunday night dinner, anyone?).
See what happens when you let yourself slow down. If reading that makes you mad, this may be just the recipe to try out, then.
Roast Chicken with Grapes, Lemon & Carrots
- 1 3-4 pound chicken ideally pasture-raised
- 1 cup whole grapes red or green are both fine
- 6 medium-sized carrots you can leave them whole! Or chop in the middle once
- 1 medium onion chopped into quarters
- 1 head of garlic chopped in half through the center horizontally
- 1 whole lemon chopped into eighths
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Butter rub with lemon and garlic
- 3 tablespoons butter softened
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest finely grated
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 375, and double-check that your oven racks are set far enough apart for your chicken to comfortably sit on the lower rack without grazing the top rack (hey, it can happen!)
- Place the grapes, carrots, onion, lemon and garlic head halves in a large-sized roasting tray. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.
- Combine all ingredients for the butter rub in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Prepare your chicken: Make sure there's nothing in the cavity of the chicken (such a giblets or the neck. If so, save those for chicken stock by putting them in a bag in the freezer!).
- Place the chicken on top of the prepared vegetables in the roasting tray. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel if needed. If you would like, tie the legs together at the foot joint with kitchen twine at this point. It isn't necessary, but does lend to a more sightly bird when all is cooked up and done!
- Using your fingers, gently separate the skin of the breasts away from the bird, creating a pocket between the muscle and the skin. Work half of the butter rub inside of these two pockets.
- Massage the remaining half of the butter rub onto the top of the skin of the chicken all over--breasts, legs, wings, etc. Work quickly if your chicken is straight from the fridge and still has a chill--the butter will stiffen as it's being worked onto the cold bird!
- Place the roasting tray with vegetables and chicken in the preheated oven, and allow to roast for 1 hour and 15-45 minutes, depending on the size of your bird. If you have a meat thermometer, cook the chicken until a thermometer inserted into the largest part of the bird's thigh registers at 160 degrees fahrenheit.
- Remove the tray from the oven, and allow the roast chicken to sit (you can cover with foil to keep the bird warm) for about 20 minutes before carving.