BTI (Better Than Ina’s) Roast Chicken and Vegetables
SERVES: 4 to 6
PREP: 40 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 30 minutes
No need to flip this bird.
When I first created this recipe, the title jokingly suggested that my chicken was better than a certain barefoot cooking goddess’s version. A few years in, I think it’s safe to say that both our chickens are legendary, so now I’m making the BTI stand for BUT THEN I made the best roast chicken, or BEST THING IN the cookbook, or…(please send any and all ideas).
1 large (5- to 6-pound) roasting chicken (go big or go home)
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
23 cloves garlic—8 minced, 15 whole
3 tablespoons mixed chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano), plus some whole herb sprigs
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Remove the bag from the center of the chicken that contains all of the innards and give it to an Asian Mom if you have one—it’s like the prize in the Crackerjack box! Pat the chicken really dry with paper towels, then season it generously both on the inside and the outside with 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
In a bowl, combine the butter, minced garlic, chopped herbs, and a few pinches each of salt and pepper. Grate the lemon’s zest right into the bowl, then stir everything together.
Insert your fingers between the chicken skin and the breast to loosen the skin around the meat. It feels kinda dirty, but you’ll like it. Slip half the butter mixture underneath the skin, trying really hard not to rip the skin. Halve the zested lemon and stuff the halves inside the chicken’s cavity along with 5 of the whole garlic cloves and the herb sprigs. Slather the chicken with the rest of the herb butter.
Arrange the carrots, parsnips, onion, and remaining 10 whole garlic cloves in a 9-x-13-inch baking dish (see note) in a single layer. Season the vegetables with a few pinches of salt and place the chicken on top, breast-side down. Roast the chicken until it’s super golden and the skin is crisp, 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes, basting with the juices in the pan every 15 minutes. (This way the skin on the chicken’s back will be golden and the skin on the breasts will remain soft, but the breast meat will stay super juicy. If you want golden skin all around, carefully flip the chicken for the last 30 minutes of roasting.)
Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Drain the cooking juices into a container, and use a gravy baster thingie to suck off and discard the butter floating on top (or save it for another use). Remove the lemon halves from the chicken and squeeze one or both of them into the chicken juices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the other stuff from inside the chicken and discard. Carve the chicken and serve it on a large platter with the vegetables and the chicken juices. Note: Don’t use a large roasting pan unless you’re nestling a couple chickens in there—the drippings will disperse too thinly and evaporate, leaving you with 1) no gravy and 2) dry, sad chicken (aka turkey).