Sweet Cipollini Onions and Amber Maple Syrup are a treat
in the winter, when Steve works at the curling club, Sunday night is the one night of the week that we are almost guaranteed to be able to eat together. Our go-to favourite is roast chicken with roasted vegetables, a winter salad and either an apple crisp or Tarte Tatin (https://www.canadianliving.com/food/recipe/classic-tarte-tatin) for dessert. We usually make the easy Simple Roast Chicken but I was feeling that we needed a change this week and turned to a recipe that we hadn’t enjoyed since last winter, Maple Thyme Roast Chicken.
What a delicious treat! We buy dark amber maple syrup from Quebec, lower in calories than honey and higher in 24 antioxidants than light maple syrup. Unfortunately, my herb baskets are looking pretty sad this time of year so I substituted dried thyme instead of the fresh herb called for in the recipe. We have already used up our supply of cipollini onions from last season but our local grocer has some lovely small organic yellow onions in the produce department recently so I modified this recipe by the addition of the onions. Wow! I’ve included this ingredient and updated the previous version of recipe so that I definitely include the onions again.
I hope you and your family and guests enjoy it as much as we do! ~Andrea
Maple-Thyme Roast Chicken
1 4 - 5 lb. whole pasture raised chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6-8 small yellow or red onions or Cipollini when available
1/3 C maple syrup (we prefer dark maple syrup due to its flavour as well as health benefits)
2 Tb vegetable oil
2 Tb balsamic vinegar
1 Tb fresh thyme, chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F with rack in the upper third
- Set the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down. Use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. Flip the chicken over and press down on the breast with the heels of your hands to flatten it a little. Rub ¾ tsp of salt and ¼ tsp of pepper all over the chicken and set it breast side up in a 9”x 13” baking dish
- In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, oil, vinegar, thyme and cayenne with 1 tsp of salt. Pour the mixture evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with ¼ tsp of salt and several grinds of black pepper.
- Roast the chicken, basting or brushing it occasionally with the pan juices for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the onions, trim the root end and cut in half from stem end to root. Remove the dish from the oven, placing onions, cut side down in the bottom of the baking dish, under and around the chicken. Baste with pan juices. Return to oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh registers 170 – 175 F, 50 – 60 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan juices; if they seem to be burning, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the bottom of the pan.
- Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, cut it into pieces, drizzle it generously with the pan juices and serve with the onions and other accompaniments. Great with roasted potatoes and sautéed greens.
Steve’s Favourite Simple Roast Chicken
One whole pasture raised chicken
fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp minced thyme (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.
- Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.
- Salt the chicken—Steve likes to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.
- Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and put it in the oven. Steve leaves it alone—doesn't baste it, doesn’t add butter. Roast it until it's done, 1 – 1 ½ Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
- Remove the twine. Separate the middle wing joint and eat that immediately. Remove the legs and thighs. I take the chicken butt for myself. I never understood why my mother always pounced on that triangular tip—until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself. These are the cook's rewards.
- Cut the breast down the middle and serve it on the bone, with one wing joint still attached to each. The preparation is not meant to be super elegant. Serve with mustard on the side and, if you wish, a simple green salad. You'll start using a knife and fork, but finish with your fingers, because it's so good. Thanks, Jamie Oliver!