The Barefoot Contessa has done it again! For those that follow my blog a little, This roast chicken recipe is as delicious and easy to make as her Slow-Roasted Filet of Beef recipe; therefore, it’s a keeper. Not only will it taste great but it really has that wow-factor as it has little twist to it, making it original and utterly irresistible.
Note: This is a prepare-ahead recipe. You’ll need to season your chicken and place it in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours before you cook it. This ensures a crisp skin and tenderizes the meat. It also makes it possible to then serve your chicken on a weeknight or when you don’t have timefor fussy prep work.
Now, besides the fact that this chicken comes out with a deliciously crispy skin and the meat so very moist, what gives this dish it’s wow-factor is the bread. Yup, the bread. The chicken is roasted on a bed of thickly sliced country bread, in a cast iron skillet so the bread becomes lovely and toasted at the bottom and the tops remain soft with the meat drippings. It absorbs all of the flavours – the chicken, lemon, herbs and garlic making it so very tasty. The bread is then cut up into cubes (croutons) and served on a platter with the chicken and arugula salad.
The croutons are so delicious and crunchy, it’ll be hard to resist eating it all as your cutting and plating it. “Oh, there’s a piece that’s too dark, oh! there’s a stray one, oh! there’s an oddly shaped one , lets fix it”…. you know.
Roast Chicken with Bread & Arugula Salad (Serves 4 )
1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken (I used a 3lb chicken)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large garlic cloves, smashed flat
1 lemon, quartered
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus extra for serving
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 (¾-inch-thick) slices country bread
Good olive oil
For the Arugula Salad (recipe follows)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup good olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts (3 scallions)
2 tablespoons dried currants or cranberries (optional)
6 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (6 to 8 ounces)
Prep your chicken: Place the chicken in a baking dish. Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs without breaking the skin. Carefully slide the sprigs of thyme and the garlic under the skin. Put the lemon wedges into the cavity. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under the body.
Sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons of sea salt and the pepper, cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
Salting the chicken and leaving in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours ensures a crispier skin.
Although the original recipe does not indicate to do so, I always allow the chicken to sit at room temperature for 30-45 min before cooking it. It will still feel cold to the touch when it goes into the oven but not as much as it would have been straight out of the fridge.
On serving day: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is very clean or it’ll get very smoky in there)
Place the bread in a medium (10-inch) cast-iron skillet in a single layer. Brush the chicken with olive oil and place it, breast side up, on top of the bread.
Roast for 30 minutes, then turn it over and roast for 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Wrap the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for a full 30 minutes. (Don’t worry; it will stay hot.) The bread will be almost burnt on the bottom and soft with the pan drippings on top.
Place the dressed Arugula Salad in a very large, shallow serving platter. Put the chicken and the bread on a cutting board. Cut the bread into 1-inch squares and sprinkle them on the salad. Carve the chicken thickly and place it on top of the salad. Spoon the pan juices over the chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt, and serve warm.
For the Arugula Salad:
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup.
Whisk in the olive oil, stir in the scallions and currants, and set aside.
Place the arugula in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss well.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe: http://www.barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx