In early October, when wood smoke fills the air on the mountain and the streets go glassy with rain, I think of one thing: roast chicken. Nothing greets cooler weather and darker days like juicy bird served with mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce and beans.
When I was living in the Midwest, in an attempt to embrace a landscape I loathed, I began roasting chicken every Sunday night for me and my dog, elvis. Surrounded by farms and rolling hills full of poultry and potatoes, it seemed the thing to do. I could get a fat roasting chicken at the Piggly Wiggly for cheap, and buy beautiful, butter-like potatoes from Sendik’s, the local gourmet grocer. I’d put the bird I’d stuffed with garlic, lemon, and rosemary in a Le Crueset Dutch oven, and cook it on the stove top until the skin on the bottom browned and stuck, before I’d deglaze it with a white wine, put the lid on, and roast it until it was golden and falling off the bone, basting it every 20 or 30 minutes with the fat collected in the pan. While the chicken rested under a foil tent on a plate to allow the juices to collect in the meat, I’d make Julia Child’s flash boiled green beans (the trick is tons of kosher salt—cook them for four minutes only) and rice Yukon golds I’d boiled with whole bundles of garlic, folding them gently with sweet cream butter and (my secret) sour cream.
The chicken comes out perfect every time. The trick? The Le Crueset. Throw down for a good enameled cast iron Dutch Oven , which seals in the heat and keeps the chicken from drying out. Once the bird is in the oven, cover it and roast at 400-425 for 90 minutes. Let it rest, tented for 10 minutes when done.
Roasting chicken (I use a whole fryer)
Herbs of your choosing
Chicken stock or white wine to deglaze pan
Kosher salt & cracked pepper
Make sure you rinse the bird. Pat dry and rub the cavity with kosher salt and cracked pepper. You can stuff it with herbs (like Thyme) or apples or garlic and lemon. The latter version is fantastic if you let the stuffed chicken sit overnight in the fridge. When it’s done roasting, finish it with some aged balsamic or balsamic syrup. Make sure to let your chicken come to room temp before roasting.