There are a couple of things you need to know about this recipe. It calls for a spatchcock chicken, which means the backbone has been removed so the chicken can lay flat. The chicken will cook more quickly this way. I always buy a whole chicken and cut the backbone out myself, which Brian then uses with the rest of the bones to make homemade broth. I can't remember the last time we bought chicken broth at the store. Some of my local grocery stores sell chicken in spatchcock form so the work is done for you. If this is not the case for you, and your preferred grocery store has a butcher counter, ask the butcher to remove the backbone for you. Or watch this video to learn how to do it yourself. Note: Do not skewer the chicken the way the chef in the video recommends. It's unnecessary. You'll need a sharp pair of kitchen shears.
The other thing I need you to know about this recipe is it employs my new favorite insurance policy against burning the veggies. Why? Well, have you ever burned butternut squash? It smells horrible and is completely inedible. But hey, I learned not to do it. And to avoid making the same mistake twice, I put some chicken broth in the bottom of the pan. This has two benefits. One, your vegetables will not burn. Two, both the chicken and the vegetables are very moist using this roasting technique. Win! Win! Yum! Yum!
Easy Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds, with backbone removed
5-6 whole parsnips
5-6 whole carrots
1 yellow onion
4-10 cloves of garlic, optional
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 cup of chicken broth
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme, optional
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Peel the parsnips and carrots and cut off the ends. When roasting vegetables, you want the pieces all to be about the same size so they finish cooking at the same time. Looking at each carrot and parsnip, cut each about where the narrow part begins to widen. Then take the wide pieces that are left and either cut them in half or in fourths so they are about the same size as the narrow pieces of carrot and parsnip. Set aside.
Cut off the ends and peel the onion. Cut the onion in half. For a medium onion, cut each half into thirds. For a large onion, cut each half into fourths. Set aside. If you are using garlic, peel each clove and leave it whole. Add the garlic to the onions.
In a large bowl, toss all the vegetables with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Spread in the bottom of a roasting pan (Note: A 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan will work as long as the sides of it are 2.5 inches or higher). Pour the chicken broth over and around the root vegetables to coat the bottom of the pan. Evenly space the thyme sprigs on top of the vegetables.
Rinse and dry your chicken. In a small bowl, make a paste of 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Either brush or rub this mixture all over the chicken, including between the skin and the meat if you can do that without ripping the skin. Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.
Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 1 hour. After one hour, the internal temperature of the chicken should be around 165 F. If it's a little below that, continue to cook in 3 to 5 minute increments.
To serve, move the chicken to a cutting board. Cut off the thigh with the leg attached, and then separate the the leg from the thigh. Slice the breast meat. On each plate, spoon some vegetables and the pan juices. Top with the chicken. Delicious! Hearty! Perfect for a cold day or a rainy day or a rainy, cold day.