This Perfect Roast Chicken is based on Ina Garten’s version, with a few little tweaks.
1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise (to expose the middles of all the cloves)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
Ina uses 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, furry tops/stems removed, and cut into wedges
**(Or, in my version, I prefer just sweet potatoes…4 large sweet pots, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the chicken giblets (usually bagged in the cavity). Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any leftover pin feathers (not usually any) and pat the outside dry with paper towels.
Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.
Place the onions, carrots, and fennel (or whatever veggies you choose–sweet potatoes. SWEET POTATOES!!!) in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, the leaves of 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan.
Brush the outside of the chicken with the melted butter (this makes the skin crisp up nice and brown) and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Place the chicken right on top of the vegetables. The juices dripping from the bird as it cooks will caramelize the veggies with ooey-gooey-crispy-cornered goodness.
Place the chicken and veggies into the oven legs-first (legs are dark meat and dark meat takes longer to cook to perfection while keeping the white meat/breast from drying out. The back of the oven gets slightly warmer, thus putting the dark meat towards the back so the bird cooks evenly).
Roast the chicken for 90 minutes (don’t open the oven to check on it…it lets the heat out) or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. (I don’t cut into it because then all the juice runs out and it dries out. If you want to be sure, stick a thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken after 90 min. It should be 165 degrees. Then leave the thermometer in there until you carve.)
Cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. (Very important to let it rest so that the meat reabsorbs all the juices. If you cut into it too soon after cooking it, all the juice runs out and you’re left with dried-out meat.)
Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables. Or, as I’ve mentioned once or thrice…SWEET POTATOES!