Roast Chicken with Winter Veggies

This is a heartier version of the Chicken & Veggies dish that I make a lot in the summer. I started trying these monster roasting chickens from Perdue about a month ago, and am sold on them as a great way to make a lot of meals with very little effort. These 7 – 9 pound birds make a big dinner for the 2 of us, a couple of lunches for me, and still leaves me with 2 pounds of white meat for salads or soups.

The Bird
1 7-9 pound roasting chicken (grill once, eat twice)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon dried tarragon or parsley
4 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Make the herb rub (kind of a gremolata if you want to get fancy) by putting the garlic and salt in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the thyme, rosemary, lavender, tarragon, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper and give them a whirl until they are well-combined. Add more oil as needed to make a thin paste.

Clean and rinse the chicken, then pat dry. You can roast the bird whole, but I like to spatchcock (butterfly) the chicken for this dish so that it cooks more evenly and covers the veggies better.

To spatchcock the bird, set it in front of you, breast side down. Cut up through the backbone with either a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife. Spread the bird open like a book and locate the keel bone that sits between the breasts. Nick it with a knife to get it to open up, but don’t cut all the way through. Flip the bird over and press down on the center of the bird until it lies flat.

Rub both sides of the bird with the herb rub, working it under the skin a bit. Set the bird skin side up on a pan (I use a large jellyroll pan) and put it in the fridge, uncovered, for at least an hour. This not only lets the rub do its thing, but also helps dry out the skin a bit so it stays crispy.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook at medium-high (350°F) heat. While the grill is getting up to temp, put the veggies together.

The Veggies
1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 fresh ground back pepper

Toss the veggies together in a flame-proof roasting pan (I use the bottom of a tagine, but an old 9×13 pan cake pan is good too). Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

The Cook
Set the pan full of veggies on the grill. Place the grill grate on top of the pan and lay the chicken, skin side down, on the grate above the veggies. This way all the chickeny goodness will drip into the veggies as they cook and the steam from the veggies will help keep the chicken moist.

Close the lid and cook the chicken and veggies for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken and check to see if the veggies are done. If not, give them a stir and return the chicken, skin side up this time.

After another 30 minutes, start checking to see if everything is done. The chicken is done when the juices run clear and the the temperature has reached 160°F in the breast and 180°F in the thigh. Pull the veggies early if they finish before the chicken. This was an 8-pound bird, so it took it another hour on the grill to finish after I removed the veggies.

Remove the bird from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies from the pan to a serving bowl. Quarter the bird for serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Another great roast chicken – juicy and tender with some great flavor from the smoke and the rub. Letting the skin dry out a bit kept it crisp nice and crisp. The cauliflower was just about to fall apart and the carrots and rutabaga were wonderfully sweet and tender.

The Nutrition: Use a slotted spoon to drain the olive oil and chickeny goodness off the veggies and you’ve got 4 big servings of free veggies with about 2 points worth of oil per serving. The chicken is 1 Weight Watcher’s Point per ounce of skinless white meat and 2 points per ounce for skinless dark meat. We actually found this to recipe to be a little light on fat overall because the chicken was so lean.




Peruvian Roast Chicken

Remember Sunday dinners? Everybody gathered around the table over a big ol’ hunk of meat with mashed potatoes, gravy, and pie for dessert. A meal so good it often required a nap and almost made it worth having to get up and go to church first.

While today it’s just the two of us (and we don’t get pie for lunch anymore), I still like the idea of making a big meal on Sunday and then having the leftovers for lunches or weeknight meals. So, when my dear wife found this MONSTER roaster chicken on sale, we knew that it would make the perfect Sunday dinner.

1 (6-8 pound) roaster chicken
1/3 cup soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or better yet, Achiote oil)

Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove the giblets and any excess fat, then pat dry with paper towels. Put the chicken into a large zip-top bag.

Toss the garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add the soy sauce, lime juice, cumin, paprika, pepper, and oil and give it a whirl to combine. Pour the marinade over the chicken, turning to coat. Squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it, and stash in the fridge while you get the grill ready.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook at 400°F. On the Big Green Egg, I use about half a fire box full of lump charcoal, an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat, and put a trivet on the plate setter for the roasting pan.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and put breast side up on a rack set in a shallow roasting pan (an old 9×13 cake pan works fine).  Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and then add about a cup of water to the pan.

Put the roaster full of bird (it’s so big it looks like a turkey, doesn’t it?) on the trivet. Close the lid and let the bird roast for 40 minutes.

Flip the bird breast side down and cook for another 20 minutes. Then flip breast side up and start checking for doneness by measuring in the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh. While the chicken is done at 160°F, I like to let it go until the thighs are at least 180 to 200°F, depending on how crispy the skin is getting. On a bird this big, I don’t really worry about the breast drying out too much.

This beast of a bird took 90 minutes to cook. I removed it from the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. I served it with some Crack Sauce, black beans, and sauteed peppers for a south-of-the-border feel.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
This was a truly wonderful roast chicken – juicy, tender, just a little smoky, and very flavorful. What makes it Peruvian? Heck if I know. The crack sauce is impressive and makes this dish unique, but the chicken itself was just straight-up good. Without the sauce it just tasted like great roast chicken with no real hint of cuisine or country of origin.

I haven’t done a lot of big roasters like this one, but really like the way they cook up. There is way more meat on one of these versus a regular chicken and the large amount of breast meat means that it takes longer to cook, so I get fall-apart dark meat and juicy white meat.

The Nutrition: Leave off the sauce and it’s just chicken – 1 Weight Watcher’s Point per ounce of skinless white meat and 2 points per ounce for skinless dark meat.

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