Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Roast Chicken with Garlic Green Beans

Recently I was watching another episode of Top Chef, and one of the contestants made a roasted chicken for none other than Lidia Bastianich.  I was inspired by seeing this simple yet rich and comforting dish, and decided to make my own.  We happened to have about 5 heads of garlic on hand, so I decided to roast lots of garlic as well, and to incorporate it into my side: green beans.

1 small roaster chicken, giblets removed
3/4 lemon (cut a whole lemon into quarters)
1/4 large white onion, sliced
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
18 cloves garlic, whole
2 cups baby carrots
salt and pepper to taste

Green beans:
1 lb trimmed green beans
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 white onion, diced

Chicken drippings (all)
2 to 3 tbsp white flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
1 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 425.  In a roasting dish with sides, stuff the chicken with 1/2 lemon, cut into 2 pieces, sliced onion, and 3 or 4 whole garlic cloves.  Tie the legs together tightly with twine (I didn't have any, so had to use a strip of twisted cheesecloth!) so that nothing falls out of the cavity while cooking.  Under the chicken's skin, drizzle about 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil on each breast, and rub around so it covers the breasts evenly (and get your mind out of the gutter!).  Then in your cupped palm, mix together a scant half teaspoon each of thyme and rosemary.  Rub this also under the skin, and try to spread it around evenly over the breasts.  Finally, insert the slices of garlic under the skin, and try to cover the breasts completely.  If you tear the skin, don't worry too much; you can pin it back with a toothpick if the meat is too exposed.

Toss the carrots and remaining whole garlic cloves (I recommend 3 to 4 cloves per person, so maybe 15 total) in a bit of olive oil, just barely enough to lightly coat.  Arrange in roasting pan around the chicken, squeeze 1/4 of a lemon over the whole thing, and put in the oven.  Cook with a tent of aluminum foil over the chicken for the first 40 minutes.  Then remove the foil and cook uncovered for another 10 - 15 minutes.  Baste occasionally with pan juices.  To test for doneness, remove the tie from the legs and cut into the crease between the leg and the breast.  There should be no pinkness or blood.  Juices should run clear.

While the chicken cooks, parboil the green beans.  When they are slightly tender but still quite crisp, remove from heat, drain, and rinse with ice cold water to stop the cooking process.  In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil about 10 minutes, until soft and caramelized.  Your house should smell delicious by this point!  Just before serving, add the green beans and saute for about 5 minutes.  Salt lightly to taste.

When chicken is ready, remove from oven and rest for about 10 minutes in a dish with sides (to catch additional drippings that may emerge).  Tilt the roasting pan to the side and scoop out as much fat as you can without sacrificing the little scribbly brown bits of chickeny flavor.

Add about 1-1/2 tablespoons of flour to the remaining drippings and whisk to incorporate.  When smooth, transfer to a saucepan, and add the stock and wine.  Stir or whisk continuously while over medium heat to reduce.  If you stop stirring while the heat is on, the gravy will separate.  When reduced to your desired thickness, taste and add salt and pepper.  

Going back to your chicken, you can now remove it from its resting place and place on a 
carving board.  If there are any additional drippings, whisk in another tablespoon of flour to create a roux, and then add to the gravy, stirring over medium heat.

Carve the chicken, make sure the beans are hot, and serve with the roasted carrots and garlic cloves, and some white rice.  Gravy can be served on top AND on the side!  You might even want to smear some of that roasted garlic on baguette slices.

This goes extremely well with a cold sauvignon blanc.

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