One time at work (many moons ago) Chuck Williams (founder of Williams Sonoma) shared an experience with us regarding a roast chicken meal he enjoyed at a dinner party. He was shocked because all the hostess did to the chicken was coat it with butter and salt and pepper. Nothing else. He exclaimed it was the "best roast chicken" he'd ever eaten.
I'm sure he wasn't lying but this girl likes a little more pizazz than just s&p. Over the years I've made many a roast chicken...so many in fact that I've grown comfortable "winging" it with what I have on hand at the moment. I can finally say I have one version I enjoy more than the others. I'd love to share it with you.
Roast chickens are conducive to entertaining because:
1. Most people love comfort food, or at the very least will eat it (unlike fish, red meat, etc.)
2. It's a make ahead dinner so I can put it in the oven, clean up and attend to other details.
3. With the exception of the teensy bit o' butter, it's quite healthy.
4. If you add vegetables like I do, it's practically a complete, wholesome meal in one dish.
Roast Chicken a la Steph
1 four pound chicken
4 or 5 large white mushrooms
baby red potatoes
1 lemon, quartered
1 bunch fresh tarragon
1 head garlic, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, sliced
coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper
2 tB. butter, melted
1 tB. minced flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place baby red potatoes and mushrooms in a seasoned Dutch oven or cast iron pan. If you opt for large red potatoes cut them in thirds or fourths...you pick. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Season cavity with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper. Place two lemon quarters inside cavity, then the garlic, then the fresh tarragon, then the remaining two lemon quarters. Tie legs with twine to keep all the good stuff inside the chicken.
Place the chicken on top of the bed of red potatoes and mushrooms. Sprinkle onion slices around the chicken. Baste chicken with melted butter. Sprinkle chicken with coarse salt, pepper, and minced flat leaf parsley. Roast in oven for about 1.5 hours.
Once roasted, place the chicken, potatoes and mushrooms on a serving dish. Tent the chicken with foil. Use the drippings in the cast iron pan (or Dutch oven) to make a roux on medium/med high heat. Gradually add chicken broth until a good consistency for gravy. Pour in a little milk and simmer a minute or two. Serve over chicken and vegetables. Since you have your meat, starch and vegetables covered in one recipe, all you really need to complete the meal is maybe a garden salad.