Hi and welcome to the third course of our Fall Festive Dinner. (If you missed courses 1 and 2, you can find them here and here.)
Have you ever needed a go-to, impressive, delicious center attraction for a meal fit for company, but easy enough for a family night dinner? Nothing fits the bill like a perfectly roasted chicken. It’s pretty, feeds 4 ~ 6 people, it’s relatively inexpensive and goes in the oven so you don’t have to do anything else except set the table and enjoy a glass of wine while waiting for it to roast. (O.K. If it’s a school night, so you can help the kids with homework, bathe the baby, or discuss the day with hubby.)
Wednesday Recipe Day ~ Sage Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Cipollini Onions
I adapted this recipe from Maria Helm Sinsky’s The Vineyard Kitchen. Maria and her husband own a winery in Napa Valley and she is a highly respected chef whom I assisted when she was in Dallas in 2004. Why d0 I love this particular roast chicken dish? It uses sage, which is a great fall herb to include in your cooking. It’s a powerfully fragrant herb that infuses flavor in the fat of the skin, leaving an earthy goodness in every bite. I love roasting the sweet potatoes (which are filled with Vitamin C and so good for you) and cipollini onions in the pan drippings of the chicken. Your vegetables soak up all that flavorful goodness as they caramelize. By the way, chip-oh-LEE-nee onions are small, flat, pale onions. The flesh is usually slightly yellowish and the skins are thin and papery. They are sweeter than a white or yellow onion, making them perfect for roasting. If you can’t find them, boiling onions will work.
TIP: Because the skin is so thin and papery, removing it is a bit tedious. Cut off the stem and root ends and use a paring knife to scrape off the skin. This recipe utilizes several of the Essential Tools from yesterday’s post: roasting pan, gravy separator, instant-read thermometer.
How to Prep your Chicken for Roasting
When I bring my roasting chicken home, I remove the plastic wrapping and remove the inside stuff (You know what I’m talking about?) Rather than rinsing the chicken under running water, which just has the potential to spread bacteria, I wipe the inside cavity and surface with a damp paper towel and then dry the skin with another dry paper towel. Place the chicken on a plate and put it in the fridge, uncovered. This method lets the skin dry out a bit, resulting in a crisper skin (Yea!).
Before you roast the chicken, you really want to truss it. Trussing keeps the legs and wings firmly fastened against the body of the chicken (This holds for turkey also.) This way the chicken holds its shape and cooks evenly. The legs and wings don’t dry out or get burnt at the ends. There are a few different ways to truss a chicken, but the end result is the same. All you need is kitchen twine and scissors.
Here is a good tutorial on How to truss a chicken.
While the chicken is in the fridge, gather all your ingredients for your mise place.
and you can prepare the vegetables. This is when you can turn the oven on to preheat.
Take the chicken out of the fridge. Place the sage leaves under the skin. TIP: wearing plastic gloves makes this job easier and not so messy.
Truss the chicken (watch the video above), add your oil and salt and pepper. You can see the sage leaves through the skin. Place the chicken on the vegetables. Into the oven it goes.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and place on a cutting board. TIP: I like to lay a plastic cutting sheet in a rimmed baking pan to catch any juices.
Tent the chicken with a piece of foil. Let rest for about 15 minutes and carve.
Here is the recipe.
- 3 medium sweet potatoes (1½ pounds)
- 8-10 cipollini onions or small white onions
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 4-to-6-pound roasting chicken
- 8 sage leaves, with stems reserved for stuffing cavity
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large chuncks. Peel the onions. If they are large, cut in half to form a half moon.
- In a large bowl, toss the potatoes and onions with the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, a couple of grinds of pepper, and just enough olive oil to coat. Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Carefully separate the skin from the meat by gently working from the front of the breast to the back of the breasts with your fingers and on down to the thighs and legs.
- Slide the sage leaves between the skin and the meat, one on each thigh and leg, and two on each breast.
- Season the cavity well with salt and pepper and the reserved sage stems.
- Truss the chicken.
- Rub the chicken with olive oil and season the skin with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken on top of the prepared vegetables in the roasting pan.
- Roast the chicken for 1½ hours. After 30 minutes, add 1 cup water to the roasting pan. (The water mixes with the caramelized juices of the chicken and produces a delicious pan juice.
- Add more water if the pan juices become dry.
- Using an instant-read thermometer, check temperature. It should read 155 degrees. (Poultry is considered done at 165 degrees. The residual cooking will raise the temperature while the chicken is resting.)
- Remove the chicken from the oven and place on a cutting board.
- Cover the chicken lightly with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
- Carve the legs and thighs from the chicken and slice the breast meat.
- Serve with the potatoes and onions and the pan juices.
After you remove the chicken and vegetables from the roasting pan, you can pour the pan juices into a gravy separator, if you like. Then always taste and season the pan juices with salt and pepper.
Next week, I’ll share the perfect side dish to accompany the roasted chicken. Please drop back in my Bluesky Kitchen. It smells heavenly. If you like the recipe, please share with your friends.