Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Simple Fall Supper of Roasted Chicken and Carrots

I don't know about you, but sometimes I crave a simple meal that turns out comforting results with very little effort or hands-on time.  For me, that meal is roasted chicken and vegetables.  Simple, yet satisfying, these items hardly even require recipes.  I do think, though, that sometimes these simple foods can be overlooked or forgotten about as we try new and interesting recipes that we come across.  So, today, I am taking you back to the basics with a lemon roasted chicken and honey roasted carrots.  Perfect for a crisp fall day, these two "recipes" will not let you down.  

Let's begin with the chicken.  Now, I roast chicken in several ways, but the way that we enjoy most is a lemon roasted chicken that is served over crisp, homemade croutons and drizzled with some of the oniony pan drippings.  This is an often requested dish by my husband and one that is very easy to make.  It starts with a 4 pound chicken which is nestled atop a mound of sliced onions.  The bird is then bathed in lemon juice and slathered with butter.  Salt and pepper season it inside and out, and the lemon pieces are tucked inside to perfume the bird and add extra flavor as it cooks. 

chicken ready to be roasted on top of a mound of onion slices
The chicken is then roasted in the oven until it is cooked through and the skin has become nicely browned and crispy.  The onions, although you cannot tell in the pictures, are caramelized and soft and almost melt into the pan drippings.  The drippings in the bottom of the pan are slightly lemony and very delicious. 

In my hurry to eat this chicken, I forgot to take pictures of the croutons.  They are cubes of french bread that have been toasted in a large skillet until they are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.  They are mounded on a platter and the sliced chicken is nestled on top of them.  The onion is smashed into the pan drippings which are then skimmed of excess fat and drizzled over the top of everything.  The "sauce" created by the drippings is flavorful and slightly lemony and finished everything off nicely.

Roasted chicken-  I forgot to take a picture of the croutons before we ate.
I like to serve this with a simple vegetable.  On this occasion, I had some lovely tri-color carrot bunches from the market.  I decided to roast them on a separate baking pan.  I realize that this hardly qualifies as a recipe, but it is delicious none the less. 

purple, orange, and white carrots
You begin by cutting the peeled carrots into three inch pieces.  Then you quarter each piece lenghtwise.  These pieces are then tossed with a mixture of melted honey and butter and sprinkled with salt and pepper. 

The bowl I mixed the butter and honey in was cold and the butter solidified which is why it lookes like this.  It melted again the oven and coated everything nicely.
They are roasted, covered, which I realize is a slightly strange thing to do since what you are looking for is the caramelization of the carrots.  Roasting them covered for a short time allows them to cook throughout and become soft and tender.  Then, they are uncovered to caramelize and get crisp around the edges. 

Finished carrots-  they look burnt but they're not.  The dark ones are the purple carrots.
What you end up with are roasted carrots that are perfectly creamy on the inside and nicely browned on the outside.  The honey brings out the sweetness of the carrots while still allowing their earthiness to shine through.  All in all, a nice, simple fall meal worth making when you just want something familiar and comforting.

Lemon Chicken with Croutons- adapted slightly from Barefoot in Paris
serves 4

1 four pound chicken
1 onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for coating the onion slices
kosher salt
black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 tbsp butter, melted
4 cups french bread cubes (3/4 in)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse and dry the chicken.  Toss the onion in a little oil in the bottom of a roasting pan.  Sit the chicken, breast side up, on top of the onion slices.  Squeeze the lemon pieces over the chicken and then put the pieces into the cavity of the bird.  Brush the chicken with the melted butter and season the cavity and outside of the bird generously with salt and pepper.  Tuck the wings of the chicken behind its back.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.  Roast 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken to a plate and cover with foil to rest 15 minutes. 

In the meantime, smash the onion slices into the chicken drippings.  Using a spoon, skim the excess fat off of the drippings. Set the drippings aside.

In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until very hot.  Lower the heat to medium low and add the bread cubes.  Cook the cubes 8-10 minutes until lightly browned on the outside.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 

To serve, place all bread cubes on a serving platter.  Slice the chicken and place it on top of the bread.  Drizzle the reserved pan drippings over everything.

Honey Roasted Carrots
serves 3-4

1 pound carrots, peeled
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp honey
kosher salt
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut each peeled carrot into three inch pieces.  Cut each three inch piece in quarters lengthwise.  In a medium bowl, mix melted butter and honey together.  Add carrots and toss to coat.  Place carrots on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover the baking sheet with foil and roast carrots, covered, 15 minutes. Uncover the baking sheet.  Toss the carrots and drain any excess liquid from the pan.  It is important that you drain any liquid off so that the carrots can brown rather than steam for the remainder of the cooking time.  Continue to roast the carrots 30 more minutes until they are browned on the outside and completely tender on the inside.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like the honey roasted recipe would also be good with parsnips, carrots' cousin veggie!! Sprinkle with a little bit of ground nutmeg when done. KMC