Dinner at Home
Roast chicken to warm the soul
Warm your winter-weary soul with roast chicken, veggies
The No. 1 trick to roasting chicken: Heat. For perfectly golden skin, turn on the convection setting on the oven, or fully heat the oven to 400 degrees. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
Then, for a wonderful aroma and subtle flavor, tuck some paper-thin slices of fresh lemon between the skin and flesh and add a handful of cilantro to the cavity.
Since the chicken takes a long time in the oven, I figure I have time to roast vegetables too. I like to add a mixture directly to the roasting pan with the bird. This way the veggies benefit from the luscious pan juices; just be sure to stir them several times while they cook.
Fresh leeks and aromatic fresh fennel best my standard potato and carrot melange. The sweet leeks and crunchy fennel will caramelize and intensify in flavor with the long roasting time.
To accompany the rich roasted chicken and vegetables, I offer plain broccoli florets, gently blanched or steamed to bright green. Pass sliced whole-grain baguette to mop up every bit of the lemony chicken flavor.
As long as the oven is going, bake a batch of chocolate cherry peanut butter oatmeal cookies. These have it all going on: oats, nuts, dried fruit and chocolate.
Lemony roast chicken with caramelized fennel
Prep: 30 minutes
Brine: Several hours
Cook: 1 1/2 hours
¼ cup each: salt, sugar
1 whole roasting chicken, about 5 pounds, giblets and neck removed
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks with most of the green, split lengthwise, well rinsed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large or 3 small fennel bulbs, fronds reserved, bulbs chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 small thin-skinned lemons, very thinly sliced, seeded
1 handful fresh cilantro