One of the gifts of living in a place with four distinct seasons is the transitions — transitions in wardrobe, daily routines, food, and cooking. Though I enjoy four seasons and food options, I feel deep nostalgia for fall, and settling into a quieter routine and spending more time cooking at home. The food and how you will cook this time of year shifts as well, perhaps turning your oven on for the first time in a while.
Hearty, colorful veggies, perfect for roasting, are bountiful. And at our house, it is back to Sunday Chicken. I know many of us claim to have the best roasted chicken … But I do make the best roasted chicken! Of course, any best is all relative, but the guys in my family love this roasted chicken.
As with anything, cooking evolves over time, but I have settled on this method for a while now, with the exception of one big change. Two years ago I bought a countertop Breville oven. My 17-year-old commercial-grade oven seemed less efficient and inconsistent, with an unfixable broken spring on its door that has to have a shim to keep it closed. It seemed wasteful and time-consuming to preheat the huge oven just for one thing. The Breville is quick to preheat, tight, and very consistent, and many settings include roasting.
My roasted chicken is almost always a one-pot meal — chicken and veggies sharing a tight space, with all the wonderful flavors merging and caramelizing.
One other discovery I’ve made over the years: I like a ground spice coating, rather than fresh herbs, for a nice, crispy, flavorful skin.
Sunday Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
2 Tbsp. olive oil 4- to 5-lb. good-quality chicken ½ lemon 2 Tbsp. ground spice mix 1 med. yellow onion, quartered
Options can include potatoes, carrots, winter squash such as delicata, butternut, acorn, etc. Other choices to try: large Brussels sprouts, beets, parsnips, or turnips.
The vegetables should be halved or quartered, and uniform in size so they roast evenly.
Lightly coat veggies in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
This is more of a method than a recipe.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
To rinse or not rinse your chicken? I always rinse my chicken; the cavity always seems to need it. Take note: Be sure your sink area is clean, with no dishes. You do not want to cross-contaminate raw meat, especially chicken. I carefully dry my chicken — you want the skin especially dry for the next step. (I use bleach spray on the sink when I am done.)
Use a shallow, heavy baking pan for this dish. I have a copper oval that fits perfectly in the oven, but a cast iron fits as well. Add olive oil evenly around the bottom of the baking pan. Breast-side down, generously coat the chicken. When coated, turn the breast side up. Add half a lemon to the cavity. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and the dry ground spice mix evenly over the whole top of the chicken. (I use a mixture of Trader Joe’s Mushroom Umami seasoning blend, Old Bay, and whatever else is around, but finely ground.)
Roast chicken for 1 hour. Remove and baste the chicken. Add vegetables around the chicken, tucking them in so the pan is full. Return to the oven, and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove chicken again, baste well, and cover the chicken only with foil, to protect the skin. Bake for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, baste again, add the foil as a tent, and let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.