fig-orange-mustard ROAST CHICKEN // winter herbed vegetables
To her frustration, most years I have no idea what to tell my mother to get me for Christmas. I'm not an easy person to shop for, nor am I good at faking excitement when gifted things I'm not actually excited about. But this year I told my mom exactly what I wanted - Mimi Thorisson's A Kitchen in France.
I don't own any cookbooks, and considering the free access to Mimi's incredible blog, asking for A Kitchen in France was more or less because I wanted the beautiful object, and I also wanted to support Ms. Thorisson (she doesn't need it). As I expected, the photography is beautiful and many of the recipes pretty inaccessible to Americans without some visits to speciality food shops and butchers. But, she had a few roasted whole chickens that inspired me to roast one myself. No, this isn't a recipe from my first-ever cookbook, but does combine flavors that I rightly or wrongly associate with France - herbs, mustards, and jams.
I mean, combining fig jam, mustard, and orange zest to rub on some meat before roasting is going to be good. Try it to roast just chicken breasts, turkey, or pork (or even a whole salami for a delicious appetizer), and you'll be pleased. If you want a crispier, richer skin, rub the chicken with softened butter first, then add the layer of jam-mustard. If fig jam is hard to come by (check the cheese section of your grocery store before giving up), apricot jam would probably make a fine substitute (but sweeter). As for the vegetables, any hearty winter variety will work. I used a mix of fingerling, baby red, and purple potatoes, brussels sprouts, turnips, and carrots, but parsnips, squash, and cauliflower would be just as good as side dish.
For the Roasted Vegetables:
- Preheat the oven to 415 degrees.
- Wash and cut up all the vegetables to a similar size (about 1" pieces). Toss in a large bowl with olive oil, herb sprigs, garlic cloves, orange zest, salt, and pepper.
- Wash the chicken and dry well. Remove any contents from the inner cavity (you can roast the neck, if you want). Make sure the inner cavity is dry, as well.
- Mix together the mustard, jam, orange zest, and salt for the poultry rub. Coat the chicken evenly, including the inner cavity.
- Arrange the chicken in the center of an aluminum foil-lined baking pan, with some vegetables and herbs scattered around. You may want to cover the ends of the legs and tips of the wings with aluminum foil so they don't burn (this is also a good substitute for trussing the chicken). Don't crowd in the vegetables, otherwise they won't brown. Remaining vegetables can be roasted on a second baking pan.
- Roast for 15 minutes at 415 degrees, then drop the temperature to 375. The general rule is to roast the chicken 20 minutes for each pound, but make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees and juices run clear. If the skin browns enough prior to doneness, cover the chicken with aluminum foil to prevent burning. Expect the second pan of vegetables to finish sooner.