Sunday supper. It seems a lost tradition for most families. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty as the next cook. Sunday dinners have become just the same as most other nights. Instead of making a dinner steeped in deep all-day flavors, I let the errands and the chores take over and a meal that could’ve been thoughtful and homey becomes quick and ordinary.
Last Sunday, I changed that. It was a chilly evening, just waiting for the kind of meal that fills the house with delicious aromas. It didn’t take more than 15 minutes for the garlic and rosemary to waft through the entire downstairs. Just minutes later, the sweet and comforting smell of roast chicken was right there. By the time the chicken was on the table, I couldn’t wait to dig in. One bite and I remembered why Sunday suppers are so important and so special.
This was better than any roast chicken I’ve ever made. The reason is simple. Slipping the butter mixture under the skin was absolutely key to getting all that rosemary and garlic flavor into the chicken. I will never again roast a chicken without doing this. It made such a difference.
I hope you’ll take some time this Sunday to make a real supper. I know you won’t regret it.
Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Roasting
1 chicken, about four lbs.
3 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced and divided
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 orange, quartered
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, left in tact
2 sweet potatoes, about 1 1/2 lbs. total, peeled and cut into 3/4-in. chunks
1 red onion, cut into sixths
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1. About 30 minutes before roasting, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken and discard. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Place a roasting rack in a roasting pan, oiling if necessary.
2. With the chicken breast side up, beginning with the neck cavity, slip fingers under the skin to separate from the meat on both sides. Take care not to tear the skin. Then, starting at the body cavity, separate skin over thighs and drumsticks.
3. In a small dish, mash together 2 TBSP butter, 2 tsp. rosemary and 2/3 of the minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Push 2 TBSP of the butter mixture under the chicken skin, distributing evenly. Coat the exterior of the chicken with the remaining TBSP.
5. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper, then stuff with orange quarters and rosemary sprigs. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wings tips under the back. Place the chicken, breast side up on the roasting rack and place in the oven for 15 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, toss sweet potato chunks and onion pieces in the olive oil and remaining chopped rosemary and garlic. Salt and pepper, to taste.
7. After 15 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and place the vegetables around the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the oven and roast 45-55 minutes more, until sweet potatoes are fork tender and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170-175 degrees Farenheit.
8. When chicken is done, transfer the vegetables to a serving dish. Insert a pair of tongs into the chicken cavity and tip up to allow juices to run out. Tent with foil and allow to rest 15 minutes. Remove the string. Serve the chicken surrounded by roast vegetables or carve and serve chicken pieces on a platter with vegetables in a separate bowl.