Roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables

I made this for Mother’s Day dinner on Sunday night, and it turned out great.  I must confess that this is not my picture–I pilfered it from the blog site where I got the recipe.  But ours looked pretty much the same, except that it was in our 9×13 Pampered Chef pan instead of a cast iron pan as pictured above.  The recipe is from famed chef Thomas Keller, known mostly for his restaurant The French Laundry.  He has another newer restaurant called ad hoc, which serves simple but very good dishes, as opposed to the notoriously intricate and extravagant preparations at The French Laundry.  The dish comes from Keller’s cookbook ad hoc at home, by way of one of my favorite food blogs, Simply Recipes.

This is roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables (click for the recipe), and that’s about all there is to it.  You cut up the vegetables and spread them in the pan, tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Then set the chicken on top, also seasoned liberally with olive oil, salt and pepper, with some garlic cloves and thyme sprigs in the cavity, and roast it in the oven.  That’s it.  It’s pretty simple, but turns out great.  The chicken was moist and tender, and the vegetables were great.  A couple of notes from my experience with it:

  • The chicken released a copious flood of juices when I cut into it.  I had to drain the plate it was sitting on multiple times and filled up a bowl with the chicken juices (which we saved to use for something else, like a soup).  I’m not sure whether it needed to cook a tad longer (some parts of the thighs seemed slightly underdone) or rest for longer (I waited the prescribed 20 minutes, which is supposed to allow the juices to seep back into the meat, but it was still very hot to handle and perhaps needed more time).  Or maybe it’s just the broth that supermarket chickens are injected with.  If you read the fine print, you’ll find that the chicken you buy is up to 10% injected “solution”.  I’m not sure what the purpose of the “solution” is, other than to make the chicken heavier for sale.  Or maybe it’s intended to make up for lack of flavor that results from the poor living conditions and diet of industrially raised chickens.  I’d like to try this with a more quality free-range chicken, but may have to go to someplace like Whole Foods to even find that.  At least until I can convince Amie to let us start raising chickens in the backyard.
  • Some of the vegetables, particularly some of the rutabaga pieces, didn’t get cooked enough to get tender.  So, I’ll probably cut them a little smaller next time.
  • This dish introduced us to to new vegetables that I don’t recall ever eating before: turnips and rutabagas.  The turnips were slightly bitter, some less than others (maybe more thorough cooking takes some of the edge off), and Amie didn’t care for them.  Rutabagas, on the other hand, are wonderful. The ones that got sufficiently cooked were tender and even somewhat translucent, with a pleasant orangish color and lightly sweet flavor.  The flavor was little bit like a sweet potato, or like a cooked carrot, but at the same time not really like either of those.  The texture of the pieces that got thoroughly cooked was almost like a cooked apple.  Hard to describe, but delicious.  I’ll be looking for other ways to use those in the future.
  • Fresh thyme is heavenly.