I just love the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten) and her laid-back approach to entertaining. One of my dearest friends, Rose, reminds me of Ina – somewhat in looks, but always in the easy and calm approach each takes to prepare great food for a number of guests without breaking a sweat or batting an eyelash, making more time to spend with their friends. Just the opposite of frazzled me — I wish I had their relaxed composure (and awesome cooking skills)!
I have a variety of great roast chicken recipes, but wanted something to showcase roasted veggies as well. Enter Ina’s recipe for Perfect Roast Chicken (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/perfect-roast-chicken-recipe.html), which looked pretty perfect to me. So what did I change? Not much, except for including some mushrooms and small red potatoes (both on sale, of course), to add some complexity and depth to this dish. You will want a large, deep casserole dish for this (13×9) to hold all of the ingredients.
This is a hearty and awesome meal that takes minimal effort to assemble. I think Ina (and Rose) would approve of my tweaks!
- 1 (4 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 large bunch fresh thyme, divided into halves
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
- 1 large sweet onion, cut into eighths
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 15-20 small whole mushrooms (I used white ones, but baby bellas will work)
- 9-10 red potatoes, cut into large bite-sized pieces
- 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
- Extra virgin olive oil (2-3 tablespoons)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove the giblets, etc., and rinse the chicken inside and out. Pat the outside dry, and salt and pepper the inside of the chicken to taste.
Stuff the chicken with the lemons, both halves of garlic, and half of the thyme sprigs.
Place the onions, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, fennel and the remaining thyme in a large roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and drizzle with the olive oil.
Place the chicken on top of the veggies, brush the outside of it with the melted butter and season again to taste with salt and pepper
Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 1½ hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. You may need to cover the chicken with aluminum foil after an hour or so, depending on how brown it is.
Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and let rest for 15 minutes or so.
You can serve this alone, or with a simple green salad and some crusty bread to soak up all of the wonderful, wonderful sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish!
Eat, drink and be merry!
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