Monday, March 31, 2014

Company Chicken

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Every once in awhile I cook a dish that really impresses me.  Sometimes it's an elaborate dessert, but more often it is a main dish that surprises me with how delicious something simple can be.  That's exactly how I feel about this roast chicken recipe.

I do have a basic roast chicken recipe in my head that I use whenever I find a whole chicken on sale at the supermarket, but this week I wanted to do something a little different, something a little special.  This roast chicken with potatoes is perfect for a Sunday supper or even a weeknight meal if you plan ahead a little bit. The recipe isn't complicated and just requires a little bit of prep, but the outcome is worthy of any company that might appear around your dining room table.

Sunday Chicken & Potatoes

Ingredients
3-4 lb. whole chicken (if you use a larger chicken, just adjust the cooking time)
Salt & Pepper
10 small springs of fresh parsley
4 dried bay leaves
2 tbsp. dried thyme
3 leeks (slice the white and light green parts thin and rinse well, reserve the dark green parts from one leek, rinse well and set aside)
4 strips thick-cut bacon cut into small 1” chunks
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 lbs. fingerling potatoes sliced into ½” thick rounds
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp. softened salted butter

Instructions
Prep the chicken by discarding any giblets inside, rinsing it well inside and out and patting it dry with paper towels.  Season the chicken well with salt and pepper before stuffing the cavity with parsley, 3 bay leaves and the dark leek greens.  Tuck the wings of the chicken behind the neck and let the whole chicken rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Use a large (12” at least) oven-proof skillet (I used my cast iron pan) and cook the bacon in the tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it begins to brown and get slightly crisp.  Leave the bacon in the pan, scoop out all but about 1 tbsp. of the bacon drippings and set aside.

Reduce the heat slightly and add in the white and light green leek parts, garlic, the remaining bay leaf and 1 tbsp. of the thyme.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and saut√© until the leeks are soft and starting to turn translucent.  Transfer mixture to a plate and set aside.

Using the same pan, arrange half of the sliced potatoes in an even layer, sprinkling lightly with salt and pepper.  Spread the leek mixture over the top of the potatoes, then top with the final layer of potatoes.  Pour the broth over the potato/leek mixture.

Pour the reserved bacon fat into the cavity of the chicken, then rub the softened butter all over the chicken, being sure to work it under the skin too.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. of the dried thyme.  Set the chicken (breast side up) on top of the potatoes in the pan and roast for about an hour and 20 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.  *Note: A good rule of thumb is to cook a chicken 20 minutes for every pound.

Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.  Discard the bay leaf from the potatoes and keep them warm in the turned-off oven until ready to serve.

Printable Recipe

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