Friday, February 15, 2013

Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

Lately I've been reading a book called French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon.  At first I read with excitement, then wonder, then discouragement.  This book is about a French perspective on healthy eating...and especially how children can have a varied, nutritious diet.  Now, we eat pretty well at out house. A plate of veggies with dip is devoured more readily than a plate of cookies by my kids.  I often hear things like, "Mom, I feel like some broccoli."  or "Can you get cauliflower at the store next time?"  And when eating salmon I have to encourage my kids to eat their pasta, too.  So, I'm doing something right BUT my kids also help themselves to snacks frequently.  They are grazers...and though grazing includes a variety of fruit (any berry can't last a day in my fridge), bread, yogurt, and cottage cheese (as well as granola bars and fruit snacks if they can find them), I felt frustrated at the food rule "no snacking."

After a pathetic late night meal of chicken nachos and leftovers sent me on the brink of bad motherhood-hysteria, I resolved to introduce my kids to some new foods.  That's when I came across this Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables on  I was intrigued.  I followed the recipe as close as I could...even using leeks (which I haven't liked in the past).  The result was a beautiful meal and a very happy mom, dad, and kids. 

Here it is, I love the specific instructions:

One 4 to 4 1/2 lb chickenKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 thyme sprigs
2 large leeks
3 tennis-ball-sized rutabagas
2 tennis-ball-sized turnips
4 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
1 small yellow onion, trimmed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
8 small (golf-ball-sized) red-skinned potatoes
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 475 F.

Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken. Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, add 3 of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, and massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors. Truss the chicken (plain dental floss works if you don't the right kind of string).

Cut off the dark green leaves from the top of the leeks. Trim off and discard the darkened outer layers. Trim the root ends, cutting around them on a 45-degree angle. Slit the leeks lengthwise almost in half, starting 1/2 inch above the root ends. Rinse the leeks well under warm water.
Cut off both ends of the rutabagas. Stand the rutabagas on end and cut away the skin, working from top to bottom and removing any tough outer layers. Cut into 3/4-inch wedges. Repeat with the turnips, cutting the wedges to match the size of the rutabagas.
Combine all the vegetables and remaining garlic cloves and thyme sprig in a large bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a large cast-iron skillet or a roasting pan.
Rub the remaining oil over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in it.

Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and place over the chicken breast.

Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 F and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 F in the meatiest portions of the bird–the thighs, and under the breast where the thigh meets the breast–and the juices run clear. If necessary, return the bird to the oven for more roasting; check it every 5 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes.
Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning them and glazing them with the pan juices.
Cut the chicken into serving pieces, arrange over the vegetables and serve.
*The rutabagas were a big hit with my 6 year old daughter and we all enjoyed even the leftovers. I even at the leeks. I have to admit though, the red potatoes and carrots were my favorite.  Next time I would give the veggies a stir halfway through the cooking time.

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