Christmas Chicken

SERVES: 4-6

If you have the time and forethought, seasoning this bird up to 24 hours in advance will do wonders for the juiciness of the meat (especially the breast meat). If not, ALL GOOD. Peeled and steamed chestnuts should be easy enough to find this time of year, they’re usually vacuumed packed and somewhere in the produce aisle, but if you can’t find them or are making this off season, don’t sweat it, the dish is still great without them.

Active Time: 1 hr 10 Mins

Total Time: 2 hrs 10 mins (with seasoning)

Screenshot 2023-12-21 at 7.17.51 PM

Produce

  • 6 large sprigs rosemary
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (baby or regular)
  • 6 medium shallots (about 10 ounces)
  • ½ cup whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Pantry

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 6 oz cooked and peeled chestnuts
  • ½ cup sherry cooking wine
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Protein

  • 1 4-4.5 lb chicken

1. Season the chicken:

  • Pat one 4- 4½ lb chicken dry with paper towels. Season all over liberally with salt. At this point you can either return the chicken to the fridge (uncovered) to sit overnight, or proceed with the recipe. The longer it sits with salt on the skin, the better! Plan accordingly.

2. Rub with spice blend and prep for roasting:

  • Preheat the oven to 450.
  • In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons paprika, 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ tsp ground clove. Pull the chicken out of the fridge, and season liberally all over with spice blend, making sure to get in alllll the nooks and crannies. You will have some spice blend left over, and some of it will land on your work surface–that’s okay, better to have more than less so you can ensure a nice even coating all over. Stuff a few big rosemary sprigs into the cavity of the chicken.
  • Cut 2 lbs sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and then into 2” irregular oblique chunks.
  • Peel 6 medium shallots. Cut them in half lengthwise through the root end.

3. Roast:

  • Arrange the sweet potatoes and shallots on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with about 2 or 3 big glugs olive oil and season all over with salt. Arrange the vegetables all cut sides down, scooting them to the side of the baking sheet to make room for the chicken.
  • Place the chicken, breast side up, in the center of the baking sheet. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil.
  • Transfer to the oven to roast, until the chicken skin is golden brown and the vegetables have begun to brown on their cut sides, about 30 minutes (keep an eye on things here, so the spices don't burn. We are about to turn the heat down and tent the bird.
  • After 30 minutes of high heat, remove from the oven and place on the stovetop. Reduce the oven temp to 325.
  • Scatter 6 ounces peeled and steamed chestnuts over the baking sheet, stirring around to coat them in some of the fat and juices. Return the whole baking sheet to the oven to continue cooking, until the potatoes and shallots are very caramelized on their undersides and have softened, and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 160 degrees. This will take about 25-40 minutes longer depending on size of your bird. If during this time, you see the spices on the chicken start to blacken, loosely tent the bird with some tinfoil to halt the browning.
  • Once cooked through, transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest.

4. Make the pan sauce and add the cranberries:

  • Turn off the oven. To the pan of roasted veggies, add ½ cup cranberries and the remaining whole rosemary sprigs.
  • In a glass measuring cup, whisk together ½ cup sherry wine, ¼ cup sherry vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes and a couple pinches of salt.
  • Pour the sherry mixture over the sheet of vegetables. Now, place the baking sheet right on the stovetop, straddling two burners, evenly. (If you have induction, please see alt instructions below.) Turn both burners to medium. Within a few seconds, the liquid on the baking sheet should start to simmer. Use a kitchen towel or oven mitt to grab the edge of the baking sheet to stabilize it (just be careful not to burn your oven mit!), and stir the vegetables as the sauce simmers on the stove top, to encourage the sauce to move around evenly on the pan. Simmer, stirring, until the sauce thickens and reduces into a nice brown pan sauce and the cranberries have burst, 3-5 minutes. Taste the sauce and veg, and see if you think they need any more salt; add accordingly!! For induction users: if your baking sheet does not conduct on the stovetop, transfer the vegetables and pan drippings to a large skillet before proceeding with adding the wine mixture and simmering. It will take longer (10 minutes or so), because you are working with a cold skillet, but the effect will be the same–vegetables that are glazed in a delicious sweet sour sauce.

5. Serve:

  • Carve the chicken once cool enough to handle, and serve over roasted vegetables and sauce

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