Borrowing Barefoot: Perfect Roast Chicken
Anyone who knows anything about Ina knows about Roast Chicken. She makes it on Fridays when Jeffrey joins her for the weekend in East Hampton (see episode “It Must be Friday!”), she makes in it Paris (“Barefoot in Paris”), and she makes it for dinner parties (“Dinner Party 101”). She even tells her assistants to make it so their boyfriends will propose (“A Chicken Story”).
It may seem like a lot, but, it’s actually just the perfect meal. The chicken roasts slowly while resting over any veggies you can find. The skin gets crispy and the interior stays nice and juicy. Just a tiny bit of butter mixed with the melting chicken skin drips down deliciously over the vegetables creating caramelized edges and the stickiest (in the good way) exteriors. Who wouldn’t want to come home to a roasting chicken on Friday nights?
In my opinion, when you’re eating a whole foods diet, a roasted chicken with vegetables is a perfectly healthy meal to add to your repertoire. There isn’t a whole lot I would do to Ina’s classic chicken (except switch the butter to ghee to make it dairy free). The one thing I would concern yourself with is finding really high-quality chicken. Yeah, yeah, hate on me now—with this line I really sound like Ina (“Use the GOOD olive oil,” she says). I don’t mean it like that. What I mean is, it’s up to our generation to start requesting higher food quality from local, small, sustainable farms, instead of the mass-produced typical American farms of today.
If you can, find a farm like Iacono Farm in East Hampton. Iacono Farm was opened in 1948 and has been run by the same family for three generations. They sell chickens and eggs, as well as a few cookies and other baked goods. Every summer since I can remember, going to Iacono has been part of our family tradition. When I was little, I would drive over with my grandmother and see what was available that day. It doesn’t really matter what you do to the chicken. It is always delicious, and in my opinion best left mostly alone. The chicken just tastes more…chickeny. The eggs yolks are nearly orange (P.S. this is a good thing because it indicates that the chickens are eating green things and grubs like they’re supposed to and not just corn and grains).
Iacono is a bit of relic leftover from a time when East Hampton was a farming town, and people went to the chicken house for their chicken, to a vegetable farmer for their veggies and to a neighborhood butcher for their meats. While I don’t condone running all over town for all of your different groceries (ain’t nobody got time for that), I do encourage you to find a local purveyor for some of your groceries and get to know them. Find a way to support the few family farms left in America and encourage this way of life with your $$. Get to know the family that works there—building relationships is one of the most human things we can do any helps us feel connected, which in turn helps us feel loved. In supporting family farms, are keeping alive a family that believes in what they do, and you’re also contributing to your own health and wellness.
Anyway, enough politicking. Make this dinner for your family or for those you love. Making food for someone, even something sometimes referred to as “Engagement Chicken,” isn’t about impressing people. Food is about making people feel loved—and little makes people feel more loved than a family dinner with Roast Chicken.
Because I only want to slightly adjust Ina’s Perfect Roast Chicken recipe, I wanted to add some bonuses here too. I don’t have a roasting pan—hiiiii tiny NYC apartment—but if you don’t, use my tinfoil trick, which you can see in the picture below. Ball up two large pieces of tinfoil, so the chicken still sits slightly above the veggies.
If you have leftovers—not likely—but you know if, you can make my version of Barefoot Contessa’s classic Curried Chicken Salad, with homemade mayo. If mayo freaks you out, no worries—this tastes nothing like the mayo you’ve had before. I’ve also included my strategy for making Bone Broth (because “you should use homemade broth, but store bought is fine,”) should you want to use this delightful, home-grown, perfect chicken to heal your gut too.
Ina Garten’s Perfect Roast Chicken TER Style:
- 1 (5-6 pound) Roasting Chicken
- Salt, Pepper
- Ina calls for fresh thyme, but I never use it and my chicken is bomb
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 1 head garlic, cut in half, plus 6-8 cloves
- 2 TBSP ghee, room temperature
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 lb carrots cut in four pieces each
- 1 lb brussels sprouts, halved
- 2 bulbs fennel, tops removed, cut in to wedges
- Olive Oil
What I Did:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out, and pat it dry, inside and out. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken.
- Stuff the chicken with the quartered lemons and garlic. Using your hands, rub the ghee over the outside of the chicken and liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- If you have kitchen twine, tie the legs together. If you don’t, she’ll be fine. Tuck the wing tips under the chicken.
- Place your chopped vegetables including the extra peeled garlic cloves, in the bottom of the pan. Snuggle in your foil balls if necessary. Place the chicken on top of the foil balls.
- Roast the chicken for 1 ½ hours, or until the juices run clear between the leg and thigh. Remove from the oven and allow to rest under foil for 20 minutes.
Curried Chicken Salad What You’ll Need (Adjust the amounts based on any chicken you have leftover):
- Leftover chicken (1/2 lb)
- ¼ cup Paleo Mayonnaise (1 egg at room temperature, 1 tsp mustard powder, ½ cup avocado oil, 1 TBSP lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place in a large mason jar or beaker. Let ingredients settle to the bottom. Use an immersion blender to mix the ingredients together until thick. If it is having trouble thickening, add another egg).
- ¾ tsp curry powder
- 1 small apple (I prefer granny smith with this for the bite of sour flavor)
- Juice of one lime
- ½ cup cilantro
- ¼ cup crushed cashews
What I Did:
- Chop your chicken. Chop your apple. Chop your cashews. Mix everything together in a large bowl and try not to eat it all at once.
Bone Broth Ingredients:
- 4 lbs leftover chicken carcass (gross), bones, etc
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium onions, cut in half
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
- Thyme, parsley, oregano if you have it
- 15 cups cold water
What I Did:
- Place all ingredients in a crock pot. Add water.
- Simmer for 24-48 hours. Every once in a while, skim the fat from the top.
- Allow to cool a bit. Strain solids through a colander.
- Drink as hot tea, when feeling ill, or freeze it in ice cube trays to pop out when you need a little bit for a recipe.