Roast Chicken for the Fall
I feel like a goldfish at the turn of every season. That is not to say I feel like everyone is watching me, but that my memory is so short that I’m once again excited about the change in the weather. It’s like I forget that this same thing happened last year, the year before that, the year before that, etc… Every season feels like a brand new start, a new experience, a clean slate. This roast chicken with apples and sage triggers that same excitement in me. The flavors of apples, sage and just roast chicken in general reminds me that the summer is coming to an end and we’re about to embark on a whole new set of meals, flavors and cooking techniques. This recipe is a great way to welcome in that change.
A Few Simple Ingredients
Roasting a chicken is a very simple task, one that every cook should master. (Look at this page for a lesson on how to roast a basic chicken.) Once you are comfortable with the technique, adding flavors and variations to that roast chicken is a breeze. In this recipe, we simply add sage, thyme, apples and some apple cider and put it all together in a vertical chicken roaster for an autumnal roast chicken dinner.
How to Use a Vertical Chicken Roaster
Vertical chicken roasters are not new to the market, but they’ve stuck around because they result in such a moist roast chicken. You place some aromatic ingredients (herbs, garlic, etc…) and a liquid of some kind in the center cavity, and then place the chicken on top. As the outside of the chicken roasts, the inside stays moist from the steaming liquid and the flavors added to the cavity are infused into the chicken. This, of course, is the concept of beer can chicken, where you roast a chicken on a grill over an open can of beer. The big advantage to a vertical roaster (beyond the fact that your beer doesn’t tip over and that the drippings into the grill don’t flame your chicken) is that you can add vegetables to the base, letting them roast in the chicken drippings. It’s also nice that you can a vertical roaster in your oven OR on your BBQ grill. (See this recipe for BBQ Beer Roast Chicken for help on the grill.)
Seasoning a Chicken for Roasting
Once you’ve added your cider and herbs to the center cavity of the chicken roaster, season the outside of the chicken with the seasoned oil (olive oil with salt, pepper and sage). The vertical roaster is actually very handy for this task, keeping the chicken in place. Then, pop the roaster into the oven (remember to remove your middle oven rack) and roast for 50 minutes.
Adding Vegetables to Roast Chicken
The total cooking time for a 5-pound chicken is roughly 90 minutes, but the onions and shallots would be overcooked if roasted for that long. So, toss the apples and shallots around the base, along with a few sprigs of thyme after the initial 50 minutes and return the roaster to the oven for the remaining 30 to 40 minutes. You should check the internal temperature of the chicken with an instant read thermometer to know that the chicken is fully cooked. The thermometer should register 165˚F when inserted into the thickest parts of the breast and thigh. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving, to allow it to retain all those delicious juices.
How to Carve and Serve Roast Chicken
When the time has come, you can cut the chicken into pieces – drumstick, thigh, breasts on the bone – or you could carve the chicken in the same way you would carve a turkey. Here’s a lesson on how to cut up the chicken. I think this autumnal roast chicken with apples and sage goes really well with some mashed potatoes and any green vegetable that is in season. If you’re really going “full blown fall foods” with your side dishes, you might try these mashed sweet potatoes with maple and sage and some Brussels sprouts. Of course, gravy is always nice too. Here’s a lesson on how to make a basic tasty gravy. Altogether, this makes a delicious chicken dinner to give you strength to rake some of those autumn leaves! Exciting, no?