Roast Chicken with Apples and Zucchini

Have you ever roasted a chicken? It’s like roasting a turkey but a lot faster and a lot less work because the thing doesn’t weigh 14 pounds. I like to roast chickens on Sunday afternoon. It makes me feel like I’m channeling June Cleaver. I even wear a retro pink apron to do it. You have to look the part. But then I make Senor do the dishes because I’m not actually June Cleaver and I hate doing dishes.

Senor loves roasted chicken. Senor loves a lot of things but he has a few top favorites. Roasted chicken. Beef bourguinon. Meatloaf. We don’t share all of our favorite meals but we both love roasted chicken. Honestly, you could make roasted chicken every weekend and make it a different way for a whole year. We have a few favorite recipes though and honestly, the easier recipes are usually our favorites. I’ve tried roasting chickens with a lot of complicated herbs and vegetables and things shoved inside the bird but usually the chicken tastes best when you let the flavor of the meat come through.

One of our favorite roasted chickens involves just five ingredients, including the bird, salt and pepper. This chicken is just slightly more complicated, but not by much. We’ll save the ‘easiest chicken in the world’ for another day. Whip this one up when you want to impress and look extremely fancy.

The key to an extremely fancy chicken (in my mind) is when you serve roasted vegetables that cooked with the chicken as part of the meal. You can’t stuff a chicken like a turkey, it’s too small. Well, you could. But you wouldn’t fit much in there.

For this chicken you’ll need two apples, one zucchini of decent size and a lime. Add some butter and dried herbs to the mix and you’re done. Roasted apples and zucchini are delicious and give the chicken a lot of sweetness. The chicken flavor will also penetrate the fruit and veggie, giving them a savory flavor. What could be better? The lime gets stabbed with a fork and placed into the cavity of the bird. When it gets hot the lime will release steam and juice, keeping the chicken flavorful and juicy from the inside out.

The best part about roasting a chicken, I think, is that it’s fast. You cook at a much higher temperature than if you’re slow roasting. But if you do it right, nothing gets dry. Amazeballs.

Roasted Chicken with Apples and Zucchini

1 whole chicken 3-5 lbs

1 medium zucchini

2 medium/large apples

1 small lime

2 tablespoons melted butter

rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper

Turn the oven to 400º.

Prepare your chicken for roasting by removing the plastic wrap from the outside, and pulling out the package of giblets from the cavity. You can toss these if you don’t need them, or use them together with the bones later on to make a really delicious chicken stock. Giblets can also be used for making dressing or gravy. For chicken, I usually save them and make a chicken stock. I can always find some way to use chicken stock.

Instructions on how to ‘clean’ a chicken or turkey vary. I believe the official USDA instructions tell you not to rinse the bird but I have to admit, I always do. I like to rinse it inside and out to make sure anything that doesn’t belong in there is washed away. Just make sure to wash your sink before and after any chicken rinsing.

Pat the bird dry with paper towel and place it in your cooking pot. I used a braiser but have also often used a stock pot or French roaster. For this bird, you want a pot that has a lid.

Roll the lime on the counter top to break up the fibers inside and make it soft and pliable. Stab it several times with a fork and place it inside the chicken cavity.

Melt the butter and slowly pour it over the entire chicken, lightly rubbing it into the skin. This helps keep the skin from burning but helps it get crispy. Lighlty sprinkle salt, pepper, dried rosemary and dried thyme over the bird.

Finally, chop the zucchini and apple into pieces and place them around the bird in the pot.

Place the lid on the pot and place it in the oven.

When the bird reaches an internal temperature of 140º, remove the lid and let the chicken cook the rest of the way uncovered. If the vegetables look dry, add 1/2 cup of water to them to deglaze the pan.

Because cooking times with chickens can vary greatly, it’s necessary to use a thermometer to determine whether it’s done. A chicken is done when the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180º. I like to use a digital thermometer to check the bird in several places. Digital thermometers cannot be kept in the bird while baking though, so a meat thermometer may be helpful as well.

To make absolutely sure a bird is done cooking, slice the skin away from the thigh joint. The juices there should run clear. If there’s any pink in the juice, place the bird back in the oven and check again in 10 minutes.

The 3lb chicken you see in the pictures was done in 1 hour and 20 minutes. It actually roasted for another 10 minutes after these pictures to crisp up the skin a bit more but it was too dark for pictures by then.

Let the bird stand, covered, for 10 minutes before carving.


One Comment on “Roast Chicken with Apples and Zucchini”

  1. Jessica T says:

    Roasted chicken is soooo good and not as much work as some people think!!

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