Thursday, February 11, 2010

Maple Roasted Chicken

Everyone that knows me well knows that I love to cook... I think I tell just about everyone how much I enjoy chopping onions and preheating my oven. It's no surprise that for my bridal shower last May, my bridesmaids came up with the theme, "bed and breakfast." Each guest arrived with a cute little recipe card for me, complete with their favorite recipe. I collected some really great recipes! This recipe is from my mother in law. It's called Maple Roasted Chicken.
I must admit that I was a bit skeptical when I saw this recipe. I like maple syrup, but on pancakes and waffles... I wasn't sure if I'd like it on chicken. I decided to give the recipe a try; if I didn't like it, I knew that Curt would eat it all anyway. In the end, I think this is a fabulous recipe with a great flavor!

*1 whole roasting chicken
* 1 turnip
* 2 sweet potatoes
* 2 onions
* 3 large carrots
* 1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms
* 1 lb asparagus
* 2 tbs butter, melted
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/4 tsp black pepper
* 1/2 tsp rosemary
* 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup maple syrup
*~*Note: this recipe called for your choice of 4 winter vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery, parsnips, winter squash, sweet potatoes... I chose carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, and turnips, but also added mushrooms and asparagus because I LOVE them *~*
( I only ended up using 1 chicken, even though I planned to use 2)
I started making this dish a bit later than I had expected, so rather than roasting the chicken whole, I spatchcocked it. What the heck does spatchcock mean? Basically, you remove the backbone of the chicken, flip it over, and press it down to flatten it. This helps the chicken roast faster. I used a pair of kitchen shears and cut that bad boy out! Make sure you save the backbone (just stick it in a bag and throw it in the freezer) because you can make some great chicken stock with it!
Ok, so the spatchcocked chicken looks a little weird, and it was kinda strange to be taking a pair of scissors and cutting through bones, but who cares... it will still taste good, right?
( how the heck do you use/cook/roast/cut a turnip?!)
For my choice of winter vegetables, I used a turnip - not because I like them or because they were on sale... I've never in my life really eaten one (except for the turnip cakes with shrimp at dim sum) much less cooked onw, so I figured I might as well give it a try. It had a sort of waxy feel to the outside, and I wasn't really sure how to prepare it. I decided to peel it with a vegetable peeler, then chop it into 3 inch pieces. Make sure you cut all of the vegetables to about the same size so they roast evenly.
( Here's what the spatchcocked chicken looks like when you flip it over)

It took a while, but I finally chopped all the vegetables... carrots... onions.... sweet potatoes.... turnips... mushrooms, etc... and threw them in the pan
( Can you believe I got Curt to eat all of these vegetables?!)
Next, just place, the chicken on top of the vegetables. When you roast a chicken (or anything for that matter), you are using dry heat to cook the food. It is important that air is able to circulate around the piece of meat to ensure that the air is able to reach all sides evenly. This will sort of cause the surface of the food to caramelize which enhances the flavors. If the chicken is just resting on the pan, then it will cook in the juices, which won't necessarily be a bad thing, but it's not a traditional roast. At least that's what wikipedia says!
( The poor little chicken looks so pale!)
In the microwave, melt the butter, then brush it on the chicken. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place the chicken in the oven (I forgot to tell you to preheat it to 400!). Every 10 minutes, baste the chicken with the maple syrup. Once you run out of maple syrup, continue to baste with the pan juices.
Keep basting until the chicken is cooked all the way through. The chicken should be crispy and brown on the outside and the vegetables should be sweet and soft.
( The house smelled FANTASTIC while this was cooking!)

Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute. Place the chicken on a nice platter and surround with the vegetables.
( How beautiful does this look?!)
This dish was absolutely fabulous! Everything tasted delicious. The chicken soaked up the maple syrup flavors, but the chicken juice mixed with it to make a great mellow pan sauce. I packed up the leftovers in some tupperware and had them for lunch the next 2 days. I think it might have been even better because the juices had more time to soak through the chicken and into the vegetables. Speaking of vegetables, Curt ate EVERYTHING! Even the turnips - OK, so he didn't know that they were turnips... I kinda let him think that they were regular potatoes, but no harm done, right?

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