Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autumn Pot Roasted Lemon, Fennel and Garlic Chicken

Sometimes a simple pot roast or roasted chicken is just what the doctor ordered for a relaxing Sunday. Something easy to throw in the oven while you're busy around the house or the yard can't be beat. A one pot wonder!

I got to thinking, why not "pot roast" a chicken? No reason why not to at all, so that's exactly what went on the menu. I still had a fennel bulb and one lone leek in the veggie drawer...sounded like a good start to me. Sliced leeks, fennel and whole garlic cloves went into my enameled cast iron Dutch oven before anything else. 

Then I created a mixture of softened butter, more garlic, lemon zest, finely chopped fennel fronds and my secret ingredient, fennel pollen. (You remember fennel pollen, don't you? Here's the link again!) Rubbed and massaged between the skin and breast of the chicken to intensify the flavor (and to keep the bird nice and moist), the flavored butter became the next layer of flavor.

Why stop there, though? Those long celery-like stalks of fennel - you know, the ones that stick out from the bulb - went into the cavity of the chicken along with a well-pierced whole lemon to further infuse the chicken with flavor...this time from the inside out. 

Once in the oven, the fennel-y, lemon-y, garlic-y, chicken-y aroma emanating from the oven repeatedly led us into the kitchen by our noses! 

Part way through the roasting, tiny potatoes were added to make it almost a complete meal. Beets - roasted separately but in the same oven at the same time was the only other thing that was added to the meal. Okay...and a green salad. 

Don't you just love a simple, yet very special Sunday dinner? Me, too. Especially when that one-pot-wonder Sunday dinner was simply delicious! 

Autumn Pot Roasted Lemon, Fennel and 
Garlic Chicken

  • 5-6 pound roasting chicken

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup fennel, fronds only, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen - see below for link to buy this magical stuff!
  • zest of one lemon - then juice and reserve the naked lemon - set the juice aside

  • 1 leek, sliced in half lengthwise, washed thoroughly and sliced across into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks cut off and reserved, stem end cut off, bulb cut in half lengthwise and sliced across
  • 1 garlic bulb, Separated into cloves, peeled and smashed, make 2 piles of the smashed garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, small ones - cut in half if larger

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the guts from a whole roasting chicken - rinse in cold water and dry well with paper towels. Set aside.

Fennel garlic butter: Put the softened butter, fennel, lemon zest, garlic, kosher salt & pepper and fennel pollen into the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined, stopping and pushing the contents down as necessary. Set butter aside.

Pile the leeks, half the garlic cloves and sliced fennel bulb into the bottom of a covered roaster or enameled cast iron Dutch oven. (I use a deep oval one that holds the chicken perfectly.)

Loosen the skin on the breast of the chicken by gently running your fingers between the flesh and the skin to loosen - be gentle so the skin doesn't tear. Rub about 2-3 T. of the fennel butter under the skin on one side of the breast and do the same with another 2-3 T. of the butter (more or less) on the other side. Rub what's left of the butter over the outside of the bird all over the breast and legs. Squeeze the lemon you used for the lemon zest over top of all.

Roast the chicken UNcovered at 450 for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes all around the chicken, put the lid on, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and roast another hour. Remove lid and continue roasting until the chicken is lightly browned. 

Let rest. Remove chicken from pot onto a large serving platter, lift the veggies out with a slotted spoon and arrange them around the chicken. Carve and serve!

NOTE: Want more veggies? Feel free to add carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, onions...whatever strikes your fancy. It's a pot roast! There aren't many rules where pot roasts are concerned now, are there? 

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