Short post today due to being a little short on free time. Fortunately I knew this week would be busy and planned some easy meals accordingly. Last night I brined a small chicken and tonight I roasted it with some veggies. This is the ultimate easy meal because you can cook the sides in the same time/pan as your chicken. Less prep, less mess, less stress. Yes, I cheated and used the same seasoning for my veggies/apples as I did for the chicken but it was delicious all the same. Easy meal plus chicken and bones for the next few suppers and still left me ample time to correct 30 grad student final exams.
Roasted chicken with apples and sweet potatoes in cast iron
Few notes about this- cooking a chicken in heated cast iron has the added benefit of cooking the dark meat legs fully without over cooking the more delicate white meat. I saw this technique here last spring and never looked back. If you don’t have a cast iron this recipe will still work wonderfully in a normal roasting pan and you wont have to ‘splay’ the legs.
1 3-4 lb chicken 5% brine solution (2 tbs salt for each 2.5 cups liquid)
If I have the time, I ;always; brine my chickens beforehand. Why? Brining yields moist, flavorful chicken that is almost fool proof. Don’t trust me? Alton Brown explains it better here. Last night I used a gallon of liquid- mostly water with a cup of cider vinegar, 3/4 cup salt, a few bay leaves, rosemary, and peppercorns. Boiled it to dissolve the salt and let it cool completely before adding the chicken. The bird was small enough that it fit nicely in the fridge and I was able to quickly turn it in the morning before I went to work.
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
a few sprigs rosemary, thyme and 2 more cloves garlic to stuff
salt and pepper
2 apples cut into 1-1 and 1/2 inch chunks
1 large sweet potato cut into 1 inch chunks
Pre-heat oven to 450*F with cast iron pan inside. Remove chicken from brine and rinse, then pat dry completely. Mix garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Toss sweet potatoes and apples in olive oil and 1/4 of this garlic/rosemary/thyme mixture plus a tsp salt and set aside. Use fingers to pull skin away from meat and rub remaining mixture under the skin covering the breasts and thighs along with a few thin slices of clarified butter. Stuff cavity with a few more sprigs of thyme and rosemary and extra garlic cloves.
Splay the chicken (cut the skin connecting legs to the body and pull legs apart until you hear a ‘pop’) so back legs lie flat when chicken is laying breast side up. This will allow the dark chicken legs (which take longer to cook) to roast immediately on contact with the hot cast iron while the breast cooks slower.
Brush skin of chicken with clarified butter and season with salt and pepper. Remove HOT cast iron pan and carefully place chicken in pan, breast side up. You should hear it start to sizzle. Scatter apples and sweet potatoes around bird and return to oven**. Cook until inner thigh temp reaches 160*F (35-45 minutes for most roasting sized chickens) and remove to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
**at halfway point check on sweet potatoes and apples. If they are too crowded remove some to another baking dish.