22.4 C
Sunday, December 4, 2022
22.4 C
Sunday, December 4, 2022
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    A family dinner with big flavours

    G Daniela Galarza

    THE WASHINGTON POST – The days are shortening, the air is brisk and there are just about as many leaves on the ground as there are on the trees. As soon as the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I find myself wanting to crank up the oven. It’s the season for braises and roasts.

    This recipe, for a maple-mustard roasted chicken, is inspired by one from the British author Diana Henry’s cookbook Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors. I love how thoughtful she was about this collection of recipes. The idea was to build upon the theme of her 2004 book, Pure Simple Cooking, which she wrote shortly after having her first child.

    “He cried constantly,” Henry wrote in the introduction, “so I was always carrying him and had no hands free. The more elaborate cooking I’d enjoyed before his arrival went out the window. In fact, I ate takeout pizzas for quite a few weeks after his birth, often through tears as I wondered if I would ever manage to cook again.”

    It’s a sentiment all of my friends with young children have expressed to me. I try to feature simple recipes in this newsletter, but only working parents know what a truly simple recipe looks like. “I started to make dishes that were just stuck in the oven,” Henry continued. “I didn’t mind if they took a long time to cook, only about whether they took a long time to prepare… It has meant a lot to me that people cite Cook Simple (her 2010 book) as a cookbook that really helped them. It’s not because it is a book of quick food, but a book of low-effort food.”

    That’s the ticket: Food that doesn’t require too much hands-on time, but delivers satisfying flavours.

    Maple mustard roasted chicken. PHOTOS: THE WASHINGTON POST
    The one tricky part of this recipe is spatchcocking the chicken

    Here, you’ll make a butter, maple syrup and mustard mixture. It gets lightly brushed on the bird before going into the oven, and then thickly brushed on just before the bird comes out. You end up with a burnished, tender and almost sticky chicken thanks to this sweet-and-savoury sauce.

    For Henry’s recipe, the bird is roasted with fresh figs. Where I live, fresh figs are hard to get, so I tried this with a hardy combination of onions and carrots.

    They roast beneath the chicken, catching its juices, for a one-pan meal that takes just 15 minutes to put together, and 45 to cook.

    The one tricky part of this recipe is spatchcocking the chicken. If you’ve never done it before, I’ll explain the general method (it’s also described in detail below). I like to use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone. Then, I flip the bird and press down on its breastbone, which allows it to lay flat. This helps it cook much more quickly. If you’re pressed for time, ask your supermarket butcher to do this part for you.

    Henry recommends serving this with a grain such as brown rice, bulgur or freekeh cooked with finely grated orange zest.


    Four servings

    Maple syrup and mustard give this roasted chicken lots of flavour – and help it form its own gravy at the bottom of the pan in this recipe adapted from British cookbook author Diana Henry. Spatchcocking the chicken – removing the backbone and flattening it – helps it cook faster and more evenly. (You can do this yourself, or have a butcher do it for you.) Henry serves her chicken with roasted and glazed figs, which are lovely, if you happen to have an easy supply.

    In this version, it’s roasted atop onions and carrots, but feel free to use chopped potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, squash or any other hardy vegetable as a base. No maple syrup? Use honey or brown sugar instead. Want to skip the butter? Olive oil works fine.

    If you don’t eat meat, I would brush this marinade on portobello mushroom caps. Roast the carrots and onions until they’re barely tender before adding the mushroom caps to the pan.


    One bunch small carrots (One pound total), trimmed, scrubbed and very roughly chopped
    Two small yellow onions (10 ounces total), cut into eighths
    One tablespoon olive oil
    Two tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    Two tablespoons Dijon mustard
    Two tablespoons maple syrup
    One tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
    One (Three-and-a-half- to four-pound) whole chicken
    One teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
    Half teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more as needed


    Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the carrots and onions on a large, rimmed baking sheet.

    Drizzle with the oil and toss until lightly coated. In a small bowl, use a pastry brush to combine the melted butter, mustard, maple syrup and chopped thyme or rosemary.

    Spatchcock the chicken: Set the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Remove the giblets, if included. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken’s backbone to remove it.

    Turn the bird breast side up and use the heels of your hands to press down on the breast bone, flattening it slightly. Trim excess fat, if desired. Pat it dry and season it on all sides and in all crevices with salt and pepper. Lay it over the vegetables on the baking sheet, breast side up.

    Lightly brush the chicken all over with the maple-mustard mixture and slide it into the hot oven, with its legs facing the back of the oven.

    Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Using tongs, toss the vegetables so they brown evenly. Baste the chicken heavily with the maple-mustard mixture, then roast for five minutes.

    Baste it with the remaining maple-mustard mixture, and then roast for another five to 10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the juices run clear.

    Let the chicken rest for five to 10 minutes before carving. (To avoid contaminating your cooked bird, do not apply any more of the maple-mustard mixture once your bird is fully cooked). Serve with the onions and carrots on the side.

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