Whole-roasted maple & herb chicken with sweet potatoes and apples

It took a while this year, but fall weather is finally HERE! My track record of places lived includes Russia, Idaho, Michigan, Chicago and Connecticut, so yeah, I’m a cold-weather kid.

The second the temperatures drops, all I want is a big ol’ glass bottle of red wine, a scary movie and something delicious roasting in the oven. In walks this chicken. (Now I can’t stop picturing a chicken prancing into the room.) I’m averaging about 1.25 roasted chickens a week since it got chilly out with no signs of slowing down.

If you absolutely must skip the brine, I’ll understand. Not a lot of people like to think about dinner that far in advance. But if you can even submerge your bird for an hour, I promise it’s worth it. One last note: Don’t you dare get rid of those insanely delicious chicken drippings at the bottom of the roasting pan when all is said and done. I will be genuinely upset with you. Drain them into a plastic container, throw them in the fridge, and use them to make my homemade ramen later in the week. You won’t regret it.

Whole-roasted maple & herb chicken with sweet potatoes and apples

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds)
  • 2 whole shallots, sliced
  • 3 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 apples, cubed
  • 3 quarts warm water
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp seasoning
  • 8 oz course sea salt
  • 3 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp ground rosemary
  • More thyme and rosemary to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the salt in your warm water. Add apple cider vinegar and maple syrup, whisk until combined. Add peppercorns and 3 tsp or more of rosemary.
  2. Place brine in the fridge until water has cooled -- never add raw chicken to warm water!
  3. Carefully place the chicken breast-side down into the mixing bowl, making sure it's completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but up to 36.
  4. Once bird is done brining, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Discard brine, rinse bird (don't forget about the cavity) and pat dry.
  5. Rub your softened butter EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere. Separate skin from the breasts and get all up in there. Add thyme and smashed cloves of garlic under the skin and into the cavity as well.
  6. Cover in seasoning. Do not skimp. Place in a shallow baking dish, and arrange sweet potatoes, apples, shallots, herbs and garlic around the chicken.
  7. Sprinkle skin with baking soda and rub in lightly. Don't worry if you can still see the soda -- it will cook down in the oven, and helps keep the skin crispy.
  8. Place your bird in the oven uncovered and roast for 20 minutes. Baste the skin, cover with foil, drop oven temperature down to 350 degrees and continue to cook, basting skin occasionally, for another 1:20.
  9. Let rest, butcher, devour.
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