I should’ve seen it comin’, loomin’ in the distance, knowin’ you’ll be soaked from head to toe in less than an hour, if you’re not inside listenin’ to the heavy drops peltin’ the roof. “Yeller!” you cry. “Oh, Yellllerrrr!” The pup has to come in, of course; he won’t know what hit him. And you just couldn’t bear to run after the young thing, getting your last nice gingham dress–a sweet forget-me-not blue and starched white thing–drenched before ole Billy Brown comes callin’.
Sigh. That looming black cloud for me? The fact that my favorite books are cookbooks. The creativity, the ideas, the beautiful pictures, ugh! Sure, there are pictures in law school casebooks.. but they’re black and white pictures of raisins and prunes: Mainly Learned Hand and Justice Holmes. I should’ve known better, to trade one for the other.
However, standing there next to me on that ridiculous Southern porch where both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Old Yeller live, is my mother, sending me packages of new cookbooks for Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day! This year? The new Ina Garten and the Thomas Keller cookbook for the pedestrian cook: Ad Hoc at Home. The book is hefty and beautiful, with wonderful pictures and incredibly.. awesome and intimidating precision. I was surfing through some of Amateur Gourmet’s posts and was inspired by his Ad Hoc attempt of roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables–one of the tastiest looking things in the book.
His post looked delicious, and if you, like I, are terribly hungry right now, I’d skip clicking on the link altogether. So inspired, I was! However, I’d never cooked with turnips or rutabagas before, and had to kind of, you know, search the titles above the produce to figure out what exactly a rutabaga looked like (Hint: They’re ugly). I’ve roasted a hundred chickens, but peeling a rutabaga and a turnip? That was new. But easy!
The hardest part was, after everything was all roasted and being eaten, trying to figure out which was the turnip and which was the rutabaga, before giving up and Googling it. They’re both white at the start, but after roasting, one is a merrigold yellow! How dare you confuse me, root vegetables! (Hint: The rutabaga turns yellow.)
The vegetables were phenomenal. Beyond words.
The fresh thyme infused with garlic and oil and cooked them perfectly into a bed of delish. The chicken skin was incredibly crisp–who can blame it? You pat that thing dry as a bone then pour a lot of oil on him.
I was, however, slightly disappointed with the white meat. I’m a big fan of the beer can chicken, and generally making my food look like it’s dancing in the oven.. that masochist. It can be difficult to get beer can chicken to come out all done all over at the right time, but the white meat is to die for. I’m a big dark meat girl, but I wouldn’t trade anything for a big slice of that beer can chicken’s white meat.. Am I feeling an infusion coming along? Beer can chicken over root vegetables..? Hmmm… thoughts… Either way, I ate a ton of it, and it was delicious. Recommended.
Confessions before we continue: I couldn’t find any cooking string, so I didn’t truss the thing. And I totally forgot the onion. Sorry, guys!
Awesome confession: I just got back from the grocery store and am making the roasted root vegetables tonight, sans chicken. We’ll see how it works…
Finally, Adam from Amateur Gourmet typed up the whole recipe beautifully, so I’m gonna just give him credit for that and skip the chore myself. So here you have it, Ad Hoc roast chicken on a bed of root vegetables, typed by the wonderful Amateur Gourmet and lazily copied and pasted by the lazy Legally Eating!
Roast Chicken on a Bed of Root Vegetables
Ingredients.. Be prepared. It’s precise.
One 4 to 4 1/2 lb chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 thyme sprigs
2 large leeks
3 tennis-ball-sized rutabagas
2 tennis-ball-sized turnips
4 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
1 small yellow onion, trimed, leaving root end intact, and cut into quarters
8 small (golf-ball-sized) red-skinned potatoes
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Directions. Be prepared. There’s a lot of them.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it comes to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 475 F.
Remove the neck and innards if they are still in the cavity of the chicken. Using a paring knife, cut out the wishbone from the chicken. (This will make it easier to carve the chicken.) Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, add 3 of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of thyme, and massage the inside of the bird to infuse it with the flavors. Truss the chicken.
Cut off the dark green leaves from the top of the leeks. Trim off and discard the darkened outer layers. Trim the root ends, cutting around them on a 45-degree angle. Slit the leeks lengthwise almost in half, starting 1/2 inch above the root ends. Rinse the leeks well under warm water.
Cut off both ends of the rutabagas. Stand the rutabagas on end and cut away the skin, working from top to bottom and removing any tough outer layers. Cut into 3/4-inch wedges. Repeat with the turnips, cutting the wedges to match the size of the rutabagas.
Combine all the vegetables and remaining garlic cloves and thyme sprig in a large bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in a large cast-iron skillet or a roasting pan.
Rub the remaining oil over the chicken. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Make a nest in the center of the vegetables and nestle the chicken in it.
Cut the butter into 4 or 5 pieces and place over the chicken breast.
Put the chicken in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 F and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 F in the meatiest portions of the bird–the thighs, and under the breast where the thigh meets the breast–and the juices run clear. If necessary, return the bird to the oven for more roasting; check it every 5 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes.
Just before serving, set the pan of vegetables over medium heat and reheat the vegetables, turning them and glaazing them with the pan juices.
Cut the chicken into serving pieces, arrange over the vegetables and serve.1