We do love our roast chicken. Though we seemed to have fallen in a bit of a rut. We love the technique of butterflying the chicken and roasting it at high heat on a bed of vegetables so we tend to make it that way all the time. I needed a slower method that would cook while I was at dance or gymnastics with Amaya and be almost done when I got home. So I decided to bake the chicken at a lower temperature in a cast iron pan with a lid. I salted the chicken in the morning and mid-afternoon I pulled it out of the fridge. This needed to be a one-pot dish so I tossed broccoli with some mixed olives that had been brined with lemon zest. I added a healthy dose of the brine and some salt to the vegetables and arranged them around the perimeter of my pan. I stuffed the chicken with lemon quarters and garlic cloves and then snuggled it into the center, breast side up. I covered the pan with the lid, which rested on top of the breast (I oiled the inside of the lid so it wouldn't stick), and remained slightly open due to the size of the chicken. It worked out nicely because it allowed for some air flow in the pan. I put it in the oven right before we left and it roasted it at 325°F. for about 90 minutes, perhaps slightly longer. When I got home the chicken was nicely cooked, juicy, and still a bit pale. I let it rest for 10-15 minutes and then gave it a quick hit under the broiler to brown the skin on the breast.
While the chicken was delicious, the real star of the show was the vegetables. The tender broccoli was richly seasoned, swimming in meat juices, savory, and tangy. The olives had their own deep flavor that released itself in my mouth as I slipped them from their pits and enjoyed their meaty texture. The sweet, soft garlic cloves were a nice counter balance to the more assertive flavor of the olives and everything worked beautifully with the chicken. It was a one pan dinner that will lend itself to endless permutations.
June 6, 2005