This week we're getting a lil crazy. This week? Oh, this week, ladies and gentlemen, we're roasting a chicken with grapes. Here's the thing, the secret, if you will: grapes give the illusion of complexity while still being simple.
I know, I know but, it's true. Using seemingly abnormal ingredients is a simple way to impress your loved ones. In this recipe we literally set the chicken on top of them after we hit it with salt, pepper, and olive oil. The only other things that make this chicken fancy is the compound butter and the simple apple cider glaze we brush on when roasting.
Let's talk compound butter, "what is that, it sounds hard to make," I hear a voice in my head say, but! Worry not tiny voice, for, as with all things, it’s super easy. Compound butter is a flowery way to say: "butter mixed with stuff." In this case the "stuff" is freshly chopped rosemary and sage, then we toss in some finally chopped walnuts that we candied in advance (this is also extremely simple).
The thing that I find fascinating about cooking is the perception of difficulty and the reality of simplicity. When I presented this chicken to my brother and people in the office, everyone was impressed by the descriptors attached in to the title of the recipe combined with the visual, and I think it looks pretty visually appealing myself. However, spectacle seems to indicate skillful technique and complexity but, that is often not the case. While this recipe does require the confidence to separate skin from meat, it really doesn't take much else. I could continue this into an paper trying to make claims about one thing or another but, I'm not in school any more... and you probably just wanna make some tasty dinner! So, without further ado: the recipe and the video!
1 whole chicken available in the chicken tab!
1/2 cup raw, chopped walnuts (1/4 may be better but, I haven't tested that amount so I can't say for sure)
2 tbsp honey
2 sticks of butter, cut into strips and softened at room temp
2 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 head of garlic, top chopped off
2 honey crisp apples, but into slices (experiment with the types, I'd try red delicious or fuji next time but you will likely need more)
2 lbs red grapes
3 cups apple cider
1) preheat the oven to 425°
2) Add walnuts and honey to a pot and cook over medium heat until the honey has thickened and the nuts are starting to clump together. Remove nuts from pot, lay flat, and let cool. Once cool finely chop.
3) combine herbs, butter, and walnuts and set aside. Remove chicken from packaging, rinse with water and pat dry the inside and outside of the chicken. From the back of the chicken, begin to carefully separate the skin. Try not to tear the skin, if ripping occurs it can fixed later. Once skin is separated, place compound butter on your hands and coat under the skin of the chicken being sure to get as many crevices filled as possible. Next salt and pepper the *inside* of the chicken, use your hands to spread the seasoning thoroughly. Insert the head of garlic and 3-4 apple slices. Pour about 1 tbsp of olive oil in your hands coat the outside of the chicken as thoroughly as possible using more oil as necessary. Set chicken aside and clean your hands.
4) In a roasting pan, or a very deep baking dish, place your grapes and remaining apple slices. Salt and pepper to taste then drizzle with olive oil (Note: don't use as much as I did in the video, I would've preferred less oil). Place chicken on top of the fruits.
5) Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, pour apple cider into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until apple cider starts to thicken. Stirring every so often and removing any scum with a spoon. Once a thick syrup starts to form, remove from heat and keep warm. Optionally, separate a small amount of syrup in bowl.
6) After 40 minutes, remove chicken from the oven and brush the entire chicken with apple cider syrup. Place back into oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes. If the skin of the chicken is starting to look too brown, lower the oven rack.
7) After 20 minutes have passed, remove chicken and brush again with apple cider syrup. Roast for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh registers at 165°. Remove from oven, cover with tin foil and let rest for 10-20 minutes, then serve.