I could eat roast chicken most any day of the week and be happy. It's often a "Sunday Supper" around here. My darling husband says my roast chicken would be his last meal if he could choose it. Last week two fortuitous things occurred: my in-laws sent a box of Meyer lemons and Whole Foods announced a sale on organic chickens. A plan began to come together. In the spice cabinet is a stash of Fennel Pollen from our new best friends at Pollen Ranch. My first introduction to Fennel Pollen came through Doc who found it was just the culinary find to bring me out of a funk. Now I love fennel pollen in so many ways. It's great for chicken, pork or fish.
Fennel Pollen & Meyer Lemon Roast Chicken
- ~4 lb. organic chicken
- 1/4 combination olive oil and Earthbound buttery spread (or butter)
- 4 cloves garlic minced or microplaned
- 3 TBSP fennel pollen
- zest of two Meyer Lemons
- juice of half of one lemon (reserve rest for later)
- one medium to large onion, sliced thinly
- salt, pepper, cayenne, sweet paprika to taste
- minced parsley, white wine or dry vermouth, chicken broth
Combine olive oil, and butter substitute (or butter) in a small bowl soften spread just enough to blend. Mix in fennel pollen, garlic, and about 1 1/2 lemons worth of zest, juice of one half lemon.
Combine salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika - sprinkle inside and out chicken.
Slide some of the fennel pollen paste under the skin of the bird, slide to thin slices of lemon under the breast skin. Place lemon halves and slices of onion in cavity. Roast breast down, then flip half way through, add sliced whole onion and lemon sections to roasting pan.
When chicken is done, remove to cutting board let rest. Pour olive oil, roasting juices, into gravy separator, place roasting pan on stove top, sprinkle some Wondra over the onions, add white wine, dry vermouth (like Vya) or chicken stock. Just stir to incorporate the flavorful fond on the bottom of the pan and make a slightly thickened pan sauce. Add reserved lemon juice/zest to taste.
Serve the pan sauce on the side, or skip it altogether and drizzle the fresh juice over the sliced chicken, if you like. I like to serve with a grain that will soak up the juices. A fresh salad with more Meyer lemon juice and zest along side.
Here's the chicken before it's rest on the cutting board. You can see the onions and lemons in the pan. Note I also did not truss the bird or tie up its legs. Don't be intimidated. You can get all kinds of crazy with "must do" lists and sometimes that keeps people from trying. If you start with a good quality chicken, add one or two flavors that complement the bird and don't fight each other, anyone can do this. Hey, my non-cooking friends, I'm looking at you!
For about $7 or $8 you have dinner for two-four or dinner plus lunch the next day. Save that carcass for soup, too.
One thing I've never tried is the roasting a chicken over croutons thing. Was it a Chez Panisse recipe? Will have to give it a try.
What is your favorite roast chicken recipe? Something you always do? Never do? Do you start the bird breast side down? (I did this one, couldn't tell if it made enough of a difference in the breast meat to outweigh the minor hassle of flipping it midway. Though crispy skin over more of the bird is a benefit in my book!)
Sources for Fennel Pollen:
- Earthy Delights - now carrying Spring favorites like baby white asparagus and ramps!
- Pollen Ranch - carrying various fennel pollen blends, stay tuned for more experiments.
- Formaggio's Kitchen or South End Formaggio.