Ina Garten has taught me so much about cooking. Watching her bop around her gorgeous Hamptons kitchen is like therapy. I can say with confidence that every Barefoot Contessa recipe I've ever made has been a success, and this perfect roast chicken is probably my favorite Ina masterpiece. It looks so fancy and professional but is actually very easy to prepare! I love this meal on a Sunday night. There's something about the aroma of roasting chicken that makes me feel cozy and peaceful, just what I need at the end of a busy weekend. A roasted chicken beckons family members young and old to gather 'round and feast together. It's traditional, homey, nutritious, delicious and beautiful- AKA the perfect recipe! It's also an all-in-one meal. The carrots, onions, and fennel soften and caramelize in the chicken juices and butter to become the most delicious bed for the succulent bird that rests on top. Feel free to try different root veggies in place of the fennel and carrots- but don't skip the onions. Some of them may start to look a little charred but those are my favorite bits-so sweet and savory! This perfect roast chicken really doesn't need anything on the side, but I like pairing it with a simple green salad and a hunk of crusty bread (and maybe a glass of crisp Chablis). If you are planning ahead for the week, try roasting two chickens at once for divine leftovers. Also remember that a bigger chicken will take more time in the oven, so make sure to set your timer accordingly.
prep time:~20 min. cook time: ~75 min. serves: 3-4
1 3 to 4 lb roasting chicken, giblets removed
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half
1 bunch of thyme
1 lemon, cut in half
salt and pepper
4 tbsp melted butter
4 carrots, cut into chunks on a diagonal
1 yellow onion, cut into thick slices
1 large bulb of fennel, cored and sliced thickly
Preheat oven to 425° with rack placed in the middle. Season chicken all over (inside and out) with salt and pepper, rubbing it under the skin and into the cavity. If you have time, let it chill in a dish uncovered in fridge for a few hours (this allows seasoning to penetrate meat and dries the skin out to ensure crispiness). When ready to cook, place chicken in the center of a large roasting dish. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic and thyme. Truss the bird by tying the legs together with kitchen twine and tucking the wings under the body (this helps it to cook more evenly). Scatter the fennel, onion and carrots around the chicken. Brush the chicken with the melted butter and sprinkle more salt and pepper on top. Drizzle remaining butter over vegetables and sprinkle them with some S&P, gently tossing to coat. Roast the chicken 60-75 minutes, until the juices between the breast and thigh run clear and the thigh meat registers 165° on a meat thermometer. A 5 lb bird could take up to 1-1/2 hours. Remove chicken to a carving board to let it rest at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, give vegetables a stir and stick back into the oven for about 15 minutes, until they are soft and brown around the edges. Carve the chicken, discarding the carcass or reserving it for stock, and serve on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with the pan juices and enjoy!