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April 06, 2006

Roast Chicken v2.0

Okay... with the ultra super basic roast chicken in the rear view mirror, it's time to start improvising a little bit.

It's nothing fancy or creative. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's fairly obvious. I wanted to try to enrich the flavor a little bit while keeping it very simple and traditional. But it turned out super tasty, so I figured I might as well write it up. If you ask me, it's all about the mustard. But all of the vegetables don't hurt, either. With the vegetables in the same skillet the chicken wings don't get as crispy, which I miss, but the tradeoff in the richness of the drippings is worth it, I think.

Dominic Armato
4-5 Lb. whole chicken
coarse salt and pepper
1 carrot
8-10 small fingerling potatoes
1 small turnip
1 small yellow onion
1 head fennel, stems and leaves removed
4 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. very coarse mustard

2 Tbsp. coarse salt
freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

dijon mustard
Roast Chicken and Vegetables
with Mustard and Thyme

Serves 2-4

Preheat your oven to 450º. While the oven is heating up, wash the chicken and, using paper towels, dry it very, very, very well. Water = steam = soggy skin, and who doesn't want nice, crispy skin on a roast chicken? Season the cavity with salt and pepper, and truss the chicken using kitchen twine. Place the chicken in a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan (no rack, I say!).

Wash and peel the vegetables, as appropriate. Leave the potatoes whole. Chop the onion into wedges. Give the garlic cloves a very, very light crush and peel 'em. Chop the rest of the vegetables into large pieces, about the size of the potatoes. If you're feeling artsy, save the fennel fronds. They always look great as a garnish. In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil and the mustard. The coarser the mustard, the better... with big, whole mustard seeds... something like Pommery, maybe. Add the vegetables to the mustard/oil mixture, toss to coat, and then drop in the skillet, surrounding the chicken. Season very generously with the coarse salt, and then add a nice dusting of fresh ground pepper. As soon as the oven is up to heat, throw the skillet in.

Cook the chicken until the meat where the thighs meet the body reads 170º on an instant-read thermometer, about one hour. Remove the skillet from the oven, and transfer the vegetables to another dish. Return the chicken to the oven for another five minutes, then remove. Add the thyme to the chicken drippings, baste the chicken with the drippings, then let the chicken stand for five minutes before carving.

Tuck in, eating the chicken with some good dijon mustard. Or skip the mustard. But I dig it.


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