I have perfected roasted chicken and vegetables.
A favourite weeknight fall and winter meal of mine is roasting a couple chicken legs, separated at the joint for even cooking, with chunky cut vegetables. I started making this combination for myself sometime during university, after I learned to make Oven BBQ Chicken from the Joy of Cooking. My standard method in the past used barbecue sauce, applied as described in the Joy recipe, and I would surround the chicken parts with zucchini, button mushrooms, and bell pepper. Sometimes I’d add some potatoes.
Roasting chicken with vegetables is hardly novel, and very easy. One might ask what there is to improve. Feeling experimental one evening, I made these changes, and I am now convinced I have perfected the dish:
- Don’t oil the chicken. The skin gets drier and therefore crispier. (I did still oil the vegetables though.)
- Add tomatoes! (And used a wider variety of vegetables in general.)
- Spritz the whole thing with the juice of half a lemon (in addition to salt and pepper)
- Halfway through, drizzle with white wine.
- Instead of potatoes, add 1-inch cubes of buttered, seasoned bread. Add them at the halfway point, pushing them in between the vegetables to be sure the soak up all that good pan juice, while getting crunchy on the top side.
For this meal, I wanted a variety of root vegetables. I knew the organic grocery store would sell a wider selection this time of year, and smaller specimens in general. I was happy to get a purple carrot and a golden turnip, which is something I’ve never seen before. The skin of the turnip was edible, like a beet’s.
As a secondary experiment, I wanted to know what such a meal would cost if everything was organic (including the bread, and 375ml of white wine as an accompaniment). Answer: €20 for two people.