Off-Season Roast Chicken

Roast chicken. Photo by Keri White

Sometimes you just want a roast chicken.

It seems a bit incongruous for this classic cold-weather comfort meal, which invariably ends up as a simmering soup, to appear on a summer table. But sometimes you just want a roast chicken.

As the old saying goes, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” so we went autumnal for this dinner — roasting sweet potatoes and cabbage alongside the chicken. The plate was beautifully colorful, filled with superfood nutrients, and the bone broth we made the following day from the chicken carcass, while steamy, filled our freezer with an elixir that we will be thankful for when fall falls.

Here’s what we did:

Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2-4

4.5-pound roasting chicken
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 lemon, cut in half
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in halves lengthwise (or wedges, if potatoes are large)
Sprinkle of olive oil, salt and pepper

Place the chicken in a large pot, and fill it with cold water. Add the remaining ingredients, except the sweet potatoes and additional oil, salt and pepper, squeezing all the juice out of the lemon into the pot and adding the rind. Cover and allow it to brine in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.

When done, discard the brine, but save the lemon halves. Rinse the chicken, place the lemon halves in the cavity and place them in a large roasting pan. (Use a pan larger than the chicken requires, as you will be adding the sweet potatoes later and will need the space.)

Pour ½ cup of water or broth in the bottom of the pan, and roast the chicken at 350 degrees F. While the chicken begins to cook, prepare the sweet potatoes — peel, cut and toss them with a bit of oil, salt and pepper.

After 30 minutes in the oven, remove the pan from the oven and place the sweet potatoes next to the chicken. Place it back in the oven for another 60 minutes until the chicken and sweet potatoes are cooked through.

Herbed Roasted Cabbage
Serves 4 generously (chop the leftovers into salad tomorrow)

1 medium head cabbage, cut in wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon herb blend, such as Italian seasoning or herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper

Line a baking tray with parchment. Place the wedges on the tray, brush both sides with oil and sprinkle them with herbs and seasonings. Roast them in the oven alongside the chicken for 45 minutes until cooked through and beginning to brown at the edges.

Bone Broth
If you’ve roasted a chicken, it is practically a law that you must make a soup or broth out of the bones and freeze it, even if it is the dead of summer and the heat is oppressive. Trust me, your October self will thank you.

If you really can’t stand the notion of this enterprise now, put the whole chicken carcass in the freezer in a zip-seal bag with all the drippings, and make the broth when the weather breaks.

We simmered this overnight, cooled it and froze it in sealable containers for use in soups, risottos, to simmer vegetables, to add flavor to grains like quinoa and barley and to stretch sauces. It has already paid dividends.

The beauty of this broth is that you don’t have to peel or chop anything. Just chuck it all in the pot!

Bones, skin, fat and drippings from a whole roast chicken
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 onion, cut in half
A few cloves garlic
A handful of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, dill, thyme and sage, if you have them; if not, use ½ teaspoon of each dried
2 teaspoons each salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large pot covered with cold water. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer on very low heat for 12-24 hours.

Cool, strain and use as desired or freeze.


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