I made wine from the lilac tree
Put my heart in its recipe
It makes me see what I want to see
And be what I want to be
- Jeff Buckley’s Version
After a long weekend and an even longer week looming large, Sunday is the perfect night for my favorite one pot wonder, roasted chicken and veggies. Not only is it an extraordinarily simple meal to make, there are endless possibilities with little to no chance for disaster. Really the only problem I have encountered is that the house begins to fill with the tempting scents and the alluring sound of sizzling coming from the oven long before the bird is done, resulting in a very hungry if not slightly salivating household. Chicken can be a fickle friend, as there is no such thing as rare, and you must wait oh so patiently for the thermometer to meet the magic 180° mark.
I will go ahead and state at the outset that I failed this test of patience and will tonight. We pulled the bird early, and by early I mean late in the evening, hacked it to bits and microwaved what was pink to prevent having a midnight meal. Luckily we were only a few degrees off so it was not a big deal. In no way do I endorse or recommend my actions, but sometimes a hungry girl has to do what a hungry girl has to do.
On to this scrumptious bird that was so good that it was not worth the wait…
I have always been a fan of the sweet and salty combo; chocolate covered pretzels, prosciutto wrapped melon, or the sausage biscuit I had this morning with cloudberry jam and mustard. This past Thanksgiving was spent in Orlando celebrating my best friend’s wedding, while also enjoying Thanksgiving with my biffles and Disney family. It was my first chance ever to attempt a large holiday meal sans family and I went a little non-traditional with the bird. Along with the usual butter under the skin, I raised the ante and added apple butter. I am not sure if people didn’t want to hurt my feelings on a holiday, but everyone seemed to really like this addition. The apple butter imparted lots of flavor while helping to keep everything juicy and tender. Long story short, ever since the apple butter turkey I have been hooked to trying new but similar techniques and flavor profiles.
Apple is such a great candidate for forays into the world of savory. Apples have bright, crisp flavor that can carry smoky, spicy, or intense flavors with ease. Tonight, I decided to forgo the apple butter for fresh apples and a whole ground maple honey mustard. The applely delicious bird sat upon a bed of chopped potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and other assorted veggies, imparting and infusing one’s flavors with another in the oven.
I prepped all of the veggies that would be roasting in the bottom of the pan first. I included basically everything I could find in the refrigerator and cabinets. The joy of this meal is that just about anything can be roasted, for example we had half of a green bell pepper that was probably going to go to waste in a few days because there just would not be need for it, so that went in. Tonight I used 2 sweet potatoes, 2 potatoes, carrots, onion, mushrooms, and the green pepper.
One great tip for prepping the veggies is that mushrooms should really never be washed, but must be cleaned. Mushrooms are super absorbent sponges that will never been the same after being washed off, all of that yummy flavor and butter that they need to get perfectly brown and tasty will never have a chance if they are already water logged. Instead, take a basting brush with stiff bristles and give the mup (my childhood word for mushroom that I have never shaken) a good once over with the brush and you are good to go. They also make great brushes specifically for the purpose of cleaning mushrooms, but if you don’t have one a basting brush will do the trick.
Once everything has been chopped and is ready to go just toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, and you have something that looks phenomenal, is both veggie and starch, and is as easy as can be.
Now time to tackle the chicken. Up until recently I had some issues with handling a bird to get it ready for cooking. I realized though, that if I couldn’t stomach prepping the bird I had no business eating the finished product as I would have little to no respect for the bird from which it came. Not really sure what flipped the switch, but now I find no greater moment of cooking bliss than prepping a chicken or turkey. A great bird requires some time to get pads of butter distributed under the skin, applying seasoning, and stuffing with aromatics. I could wax poetically long into the night about the issue, but for fear that some will begin to worry about this new found love I am going to wrap it up there.
Tonight my preparation technique focused on keeping the chicken moist and full of rich flavor. I placed pads of butter under the skin on both sides of the bird. I then used a mandolin to thinly slice apple and in areas with enough space slid half of a slice under the skin as well. Then the bird was salt and peppered in preparation for a bath in maple honey mustard. Once the bird was coated, I placed apple slices on top and around the sides. For aromatics, the bird was stuffed with a halved small onion, the ends of the apple, and sage. The prepped bird went on to the rack placed above the veggies and put into a 400° oven for an hour and a half, but should have been in for 2 hours, or until it reached 180°.
Unfortunately, my camera battery died and the chicken got devoured before I could take an after picture, but I will go ahead and say that it made some mean apple chips. Partially due to the late hour, but I also like to believe that it was just yummy the chicken and vegetables were gobbled up (pun intended). A great one pot wonder indeed!
Overall, if you have a few hours to kill, but want to do so in a low stress/effort manner, roasted chicken and vegetables is one of the easiest, but most fulfilling meals I know. If you want to get creative like I did, go for it! The possibilities are endless and the results are nearly always fabulous. It’s the perfect end to a weekend, and a great way to start out the week!