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Perfectly Simple Roast Chicken

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Roast Chicken

There's nothing homier than a delicious roast chicken dinner.

Recently one of my daughters requested roast chicken for dinner. Which means, of course, that I made roast chicken, because how can you not fulfill a request like that?

While prepping the chicken, I told her she needed to watch and learn, that everyone needs to know how to roast a chicken. She gave me the sideways eye roll, meaning What in the world are you talking about? 

Here’s what I’m talking about: Roast chicken is one of the simplest things to have in your repertoire, a staple. It goes from company night, to the perfect thing to take to a sick friend’s family, to cozy weeknight dinner. It’s impressive, but it’s homey. It makes the house smell like home. It yields leftover chicken that you can turn into salads or soups or enchiladas. There’s nothing not to love.

But a good roast chicken - a Perfectly Simple Roast Chicken - takes a little know-how. Just a little. The keys are: 1) be generous with the seasoning; 2) let the chicken dry out in the fridge before roasting, in order to get super crispy skin; and 3) well, that’s it. Easy, simple, and a delicious dinner to get on your table tonight.

Perfectly Simple Roast Chicken

1 4 to 5 pound roasting chicken, rinsed and dried with paper towels
1 head garlic, 1 clove minced, all others separated but not peeled
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bulb fennel, core removed, quartered
6 shallots, peeled
1 can 15-ounce artichoke hearts, drained
1 russet potato, unpeeled, cut in 2-inch chunks

In a small bowl, stir together the minced garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil, to make a paste. Place the chicken breast side up in a roasting pan. Gently slide your hand under the skin of the chicken and rub the spices onto the breast and drumsticks under the skin. Rub any remaining paste on top of the breast. Season all over with a generous sprinkle more of salt and pepper. If you want, you can tie the legs together with kitchen string; this makes for a prettier chicken but is not necessary. Put the chicken in the pan, uncovered, in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight. 

When you are ready to roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scatter the remaining whole garlic cloves, fennel, shallots, artichoke hearts, and potatoes around the chicken. Sprinkle the vegetables with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the skin is brown and crisp. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before carving.

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