Roasting a chicken is an essential kitchen skill that I think everyone should know how to do. Roasted chicken can take many forms, whether roasted whole, split down its backbone and spatchcocked, slathered with various herbs and spices, or varnished with a deep, dark russeted stain of your favorite bbq sauce. I often feel that by having a roasted chicken, I vastly increase my meal options since it is so versatile. Shredding the chicken from the bone will typically feed more people, rather than serving the quarters cut from the whole bird.
Here, I’ve roasted a chicken along with a few root vegetables to serve directly on top of a green salad. You can use whatever greens you wish. I chose dark, leafy spinach, simply because I could buy it prewashed and ready to eat, which makes life easier. Because of the moisture and steam from the chicken, the root vegetable will never brown or crisp-up. The trade-off for bronzed and crispy vegetables is the convenience of roasting everything in one pan, which not only means I have less to clean up, but it also means that I’m not spending additional time roasting two separate trays.
Whenever I roast a chicken, I am emphatic about saving the bones to make stock. You won’t get much flavor for a stock with just one chicken carcass, you’ll need at least two or three, depending on the size of the chickens, or rather, the bones that remain of them. Thankfully, that’s what freezer bags are for. I keep my bones in the freezer until I feel I have enough for a big pot of chicken stock. Having said that, after this particular meal, I did in fact, use the bones to enhance the flavor of a soup that I wanted to make using the meat that was left from my salad.
Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetable Salad
I serve the chicken directly on the salad, and shred the breasts in the bowl. This allows all the juices to flavor the salad.
1 whole chicken, about 3 – 3½ pounds
Freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup snap peas
1 pound red potatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons fresh dill, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh flat-leafed parsely, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sumac
6 cups baby spinach or other salad greens of your liking
½ lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, or 220 Celcius.
Place the vegetables in a roasting pan and pour onto them about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and season them with ½ teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon pepper and the dried thyme. Using clean hands, mix the vegetables, coating every piece oil and the seasonings.
Remove the chicken from its wrapping and pat it dry with paper towel. Drying the chicken will help the skin crisp as it cooks. Place the bird in the pan, on top of the vegetables. Afterwards, drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil onto the chicken, as well as one teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Then, massage the chicken, slickening the dry skin with the seasoned oil. Secure the wing tips behind bird and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. — This isn’t essential, but it does help with even cooking and ensuring that the tips of the wings and drumsticks don’t burn.
Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven for up to 1½ hours, checking at the 1 hour and 15-minute mark. You’ll know the chicken is fully cooked when the internal temperature taken at the thickest part of the breast is 165 degrees and the juices when cut near the thigh, run clear. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the oven, cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, arrange the salad greens onto salad bowl. Drizzle in some olive oil (you’ll also be using some of the oil in the pan) and season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Scatter the roasted vegetables among the greens. Then strewn the bowl with the fresh dill, parsley, snap peas and sumac. Place the chicken in the center of the bowl and pour onto it some of the drippings that have collected at the bottom of the roasting pan and garnish with the lemon wedges. At this point, you can proudly present the salad to your friends and family as it is sure to be a showstopper.
To serve shred the chicken with two large forks and toss the meat into the salad. It is helpful to have a plate or large bowl for the carcass after you’ve removed as much of the meat as possible with forks.*
* Don’t concern yourself with removing all of the meat from the bone. More often than not, I shred only the breasts from the chicken, using the remaining meat from the chicken for other meals, like soups. I find that both of the breasts shredded among the hearty root vegetables and dark, leafy greens are more than enough for 3-4 people for lunch.