So you know how cooking Thanksgiving dinner seems like running a marathon? Or at least a 5k. And since the pièce de résistance is the turkey, obviously, that is the most daunting part? Maybe the fear of roasting the Thanksgiving turkey has trickled down to scare us from roasting other fowl, because I was afraid of roasting regular ass chickens for the longest time.
I mean, scared. Kind of like how I’m scared of baking bread now – it’s the YEAST, guys. How does it even work? Why can’t I do it? – I promise I’ll tackle that, too.. eventually. But for now, I’m going to advocate for the ease of cooking roast chicken: guys, it is EASY. It gets a little gross, but eh. You wash.
Okay, AND. Guess who taught me how to man up and just roast an effing chicken? My man, Thomas Keller. Yeah, I can make the same thing Thomas MFing Keller makes and it tastes REALLY GOOD. I promise you can make it, too. I also promise that you’ll feel like an adult who can cook for yourself and stop eating yogurt and handfuls of popcorn for dinner every day. We’ve all been there, and will probably be there again. It’s okay.
This chicken recipe is really special, but so accessible. It’s from Thomas Keller’s cookbook Ad Hoc at Home, and while his list of ingredients is really specific, I think TK would want you to work with what you have. I did. I couldn’t find a tennis ball-sized parsnip to save my life, so I bought I real big one instead and that’s okay. Basically, you chop, you rub, you truss, and you throw the whole mess in the oven. Dinner is done, everyone is all impressed, and you look like a kitchen master, when really, the dish is secretly low-maintenance. These sorts of recipes are the best.
Also, uncooked chickens are not the most photogenic little guys. Joke’s on me.
Here we go:
Ad Hoc at Home Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
(Adapted, slightly, from Thomas Keller’s recipe)
- one 4-4 1/2 pound chicken
- two tennis ball-sized turnips
- one smallish onion
- three tennis ball-sized parsnips (or one big ass one, like I used)
- six golf ball-sized baby red potatoes
- four medium carrots
- six cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
- six or eight sprigs of thyme
- two tablespoons of butter, cut into six pieces
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
- salt and pepper
So, step one is pretty important (but if there’s a time crunch, it’s chill if you skip it): let the chicken air out in your fridge, uncovered, for a day or so. This helps the skin crisp up really nicely when it roasts. On the Roasting Day, get the chicken out of the fridge to come to room temperature for an hour or an hour and a half. Pre-heat the oven to 425°. Peel and cut your turnips and parsnips into 3/4 inch wedges. Clean the carrots, then cut them into 2 inch chunks. Cut the onion, peeled and with root end intact, into quarters. Toss the vegetables in about half the oil and half the garlic and season with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves from two of the sprigs. Massage the inside of the chicken (ugh gross I know) with the rest of the garlic (and leave those suckers in the cavity) and cram the remaining thyme sprigs in there, too. Bend the wing tips behind the breast, and truss the bird with some kitchen string. Cover the chicken with the remaining oil, and then season with salt and pepper. Dump the vegetables into a 12-inch cast iron skillet, or a roasting pan, and then nestle the bird on top. Nestle it.
Roast it all with the oven at 425° for 25 minutes, then lower the temp to 400° for another 45 minutes. Check the chicken’s doneness (no pink meat and clear juices) at this point. If it needs to go longer, check every five minutes.
Once the chicken is done, take it out and let it rest on a cutting board for 20 minutes. Re-heat the vegetables on the stove top for a few minutes and toss them in the delicious chicken juice. Then carve and serve and be like “hell nall, that wasn’t so hard”.
Damn, now I’m hungry. THANKS A LOT Thomas Keller. Jeez.