Simple Slow Roast Chicken

“But my favorite remained the basic roast chicken. What a deceptively simple dish. I had come to believe that one can judge the quality of a cook by his or her roast chicken. Above all, it should taste like chicken: it should be so good that even a perfectly simple, buttery roast should be a delight.”

Julia Child, My Life in France

The winter storm systems are finally rolling in! This week, Peter has been snow-blowing the driveway, and I’ve cleared the front porch of snow. I love putting on my big Sorel boots and shoveling the light flufffy powder away from the front door. The next best thing to being snowed-in, is anticipating being snowed-in.

When the weather acts this way, I can’t help but buy a whole chicken and pre-heat the oven. A simple roast chicken is such a delight. When prepared right, it is the ultimate comfort food. My mother would regularly roast chicken growing up, which was an ideal and relatively hands-free way to feed our family of five. This fall, my dear friend Bob Griswold roasted a chicken for our hunting camp. After hours of hiking in the dark and oven frozen mountains, it was heavenly! Perfect to feed unexpected guests, and ideal for leftover chicken sandwiches or soup.

Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tips on roast chicken, and decided on this easy recipe. The trick is to keep the temp low, and a tight-fitting lid dutch oven to keep the moisture in while the chicken slow-cooks to perfection. Imagine a fall-apart rotisserie chicken with the elevated flavor of herbs and aromatics. I love the combination of fennel and tarragon. This is a very loose recipe. You can swap out herbs, and alternate veggies according what is in your fridge, including potatoes, carrots, shallots, leeks, or squash. If you’ve never roasted a chicken before, then you’re in for a delight. It is very simple and you’ll look like a 5 star chef when you pull it from the oven! There will be a generous amount of lovely chicken juices (schmaltz!) You can freeze the leftover schmaltz and chicken bones to make homemade chicken stock. More on that in a later post!

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken (about 4½ lb.), prefered Rosie or Roxy brand
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion,
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 handful or fresh herbs such as tarragon, oregano, thyme, or rosemary
  • 1/4 C white cooking wine
  • 1/4 C water

Simple Slow Roast Chicken
4-6 Servings
3 Hours

Recipe

  1. Remove chicken from packaging. Pat dry and allow to come to room-temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Season chicken inside and out and all around with salt and pepper. Do not forget to season in the crevices and under the wings.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250°. Prepare a dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, like a Le Creuset. It should be large enough to hold the chicken, but not so large that there is empty space. Chop the onion in quarters and spread in the bottom of the pot. Chop the fennel bulb in quarters and remove the stems and fronds. Reserve for garnish. Spread the fennel in the bottom of the dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Once the chicken has reached room temperature, place breast side up in the dutch oven over the vegetables. Rub the chicken with olive oil, do not forget the crevices and under the wings. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, if desired. Sprinkle a handful of herbs around the chicken. Pour white wine and water over the vegetables.
  4. Cover with the lid and slow-roast for two and half hours. Chicken is cooked through when it is fall-apart tender, and the thickest part of the breast registers around 200°. Vegetables will be very tender and sitting in a generous amount of chicken juices.
  5. Carefully remove lid. Increase oven to broil. Broil breast side up for about 10 minutes until skin is nicely browned. Turn chicken over to breast side down and continue to broil for 6 more minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and all to rest for at least 15 minutes. pluck herb stems from the dutch oven and discard. Carve the chicken and serve with a spoonful of vegetables and juices. Garnish with fennel fronds.
This week I served my simple roast with milk-braised Idaho Giant Lima Beans and crusty toast. A hearty winter meal.

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