Roast Hen with Glazed Root Vegetables
I remember years and years ago my mom and my aunt getting into heated “discussions” about whether or not to leave the wonderful, cripsy, fatty skin on the Thanksgiving turkey or to remove it for “health reasons”. My aunt wanted it in the garbage as she was deeply concerned for everyone’s heart health. She really wanted it in the garbage. Or fed to the dog. Anywhere but on someone’s plate.
I was always thankful when Auntie Ellen was out-voted and the skin got left on. It was my favourite part! Followed very closely by the dark meat of the thigh and drumstick. While I appreciate my aunt’s health consciousness, we know now just how misguided that “fat is evil” approach really is. And the crispy skin is still my favourite part of any roast turkey or chicken.
Recently, I was running low on my homemade chicken broth (and freezer space), so the two little ladies biding their time in my freezer were about to be put to work. There is nothing like good roast chicken broth to round out a recipe. With a big batch-cooking day coming up, I did not want to be caught short of this staple ingredient.
We get our roasting “chickens” from my sister whenever possible. I say “chickens”, because her birds are usually closer to turkey size by the time they are done, but you really can’t beat home grown, truly free range, forage-fed chicken. The runner up for us is the organic roasting chicken two-pack carried by Costco. These chicks look like dwarves compared to the homegrown ones and don’t taste quite as good, but they’ll do. And at the price we pay for them, I want to make sure that every bite is mouth-wateringly delicious!
- 2 small roasting hens
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 2 teaspoon dried basil, divided
- 2 teaspoon tried thyme, divided
- sprigs of fresh herbs, like basil, thyme, or rosemary (optional)
- 1/2 - 1 cup of water
- 1/2 pound sliced beets
- 1/2 pound sliced carrots
- zest of one orange
- juice from 1-2 oranges (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 table spoon maple syrup
- pinch of salt (to taste)
- Ensure the hens are thoroughly thawed (two days in the fridge usually does it for me, but your hens/fridge may be different) and the body cavities are clear. If your hens come with giblets, feel free to remove them from the bag and return to the bird for roasting.
- Rub the skins of the hens with the avocado oil (over the breasts and drumsticks - the parts that will be facing up in the roaster). I've heard that duck fat works very well for this, too, but I didn't have any on hand. The oil will crisp as the hens roast.
- Wedge an onion quarter between each drumstick and the body. If you have sprigs of fresh herbs, you can stuff the body cavity with extra onion and the fresh herbs.
- Place the hens in a roaster, breast up. Sprinkle the basil and thyme over where you rubbed the oil. Pour water into the bottom of the roaster.
- Roast, covered, at 325F for one hour or until you can twist a drumstick off easily. Remove cover and broil for 10-15 minutes until skin has crisped. Remove from oven, cover, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving/serving.
- Steam beets and carrots until tender
- Combine orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup, and salt in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Drain beets and carrots very well. Pour glaze over and stir or toss to coat.
- Arrange on plate with roasted hen and serve.
I love the colours of this dish and it is such a great winter-time comfort food. Be sure to save the chicken bones for some delicious, nutritious homemade chicken broth!
What are your tips and tricks for the perfect roast chicken? Favourite sides for your roasted bird? Please share!
This recipe was featured on Fat Tuesday – Sunday Snippets!