This fast, high-heat method is ideal for birds that have been raised free-ranging on pasture (they have leaner flesh), and it’s also perfect for roasting vegetables.
Planning Note: This recipe is for cooking two birds plus a boatload of veggies at once. A family of four will probably eat most of one chicken during the first meal, leaving another bird and leftover vegetables for meals later in the week.
Roast Chicken and Vegetables Recipe
• 2 large, whole, pastured chickens
• Olive oil, as needed
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
• 2 medium lemons
• 4 large white or yellow onions
• 1 medium leek
• 1 pound white button or crimini mushrooms
• 1 head each: garlic, broccoli, cauliflower
• 1 each large eggplant and zucchini
• 3 bell peppers
• 1 to 2 each: celery roots (peeled), potatoes, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash (peeled and seeded)
• 2 to 3 each: beets, carrots, parsnips (woody cores removed), radishes
• 6 tablespoons butter (optional)
• 4 cups brown rice or quinoa
1. Marinate chickens: Rub chickens inside and out with olive oil, salt, pepper and leaves from 1 rosemary sprig. Pierce lemons all the way through several times with something sharp such as a wooden skewer. Stuff a lemon into cavity of each bird, and sew up cavity with kitchen twine. Refrigerate chickens in a covered container.
2. Prepare vegetables: Have ready 3 sealable storage containers, such as gallon baggies or Pyrex dishes with lids: 1 container is your main vegetable container; 1 will store trimmings (and later, chicken bones) for stock; and 1 will store chopped mushroom stems (and later, some leftover veggies) for the Chicken and White Bean Chili recipe.
• Peel and quarter onions. Put onion quarters in vegetable container and trimmings in stock container.
• Rinse leeks. Slice white and pale green parts into 1⁄4-inch rings; add to onions. Put dark green parts in stock container.
• Remove mushroom stems, finely chop and freeze for later use. Chop mushroom caps and add to vegetable container.
• Peel garlic; add whole cloves to vegetable container.
• Cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets; add florets to vegetable container (you can also chop the stems and add them to the vegetable container, if you wish).
• Chop remaining vegetables into bite- sized chunks (1-inch cubes) and add to vegetable container. (Put trimmings in stock container.) Pour olive oil over all vegetables, sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and remaining rosemary sprigs. Toss to coat. Refrigerate mixture.
3. Roast chickens and vegetables: Bring marinated chickens up to room temperature before cooking. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In 1 or 2 large roasting pans, set birds breast-side-down on top of vegetables. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove pan(s) and reduce heat to 400 degrees. Carefully turn birds over, dot tops with pats of butter, and roast another 20 to 30 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced in the thickest part. Let birds rest at least 20 minutes before serving.
4. Prepare rice or quinoa: Prepare 4 cups brown rice or quinoa, following package directions. Reserve half of cooked rice or quinoa for Vegetable Stir-Fry.
5. Serve: Carve chickens and serve meat alongside brown rice or quinoa. Scoop about 1⁄2 cup roasted vegetables onto each portion of rice, taking care to first toss all vegetables in chicken drippings.
Find more recipes and tips for successful meal planning in Cook Once, Eat All Week.