Roasted chicken is one of my go-to recipes; whether it’s a weeknight, a last-minute dinner party, or a special occasion, roasted chicken evokes comfort and an image of the Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, and Julia Stiles movie Mona Lisa Smile: I’m a 50s era housewife, complete with heels, hostess apron, perfect hair, and immaculate red lipstick. I know this picture is ridiculous, dated, and dusty. I admit that when I cook I don’t exactly glide around in a ball gown like Barbie in her Dream House (my husband has actually threatened to start a blog called Sh*tMyWifeWearsWhenSheCooks.com), but there it is. And I like it. It makes me feel like the hostess with the most-est, even when in reality I wind up sweaty and smelling like bacon after cooking—even when there was no bacon involved.
This is one of many roasted chicken variations I make. This one falls in the special occasions category because it takes a teensy bit more work than a Tuesday night allows for. It’s accompanied by tart green apples, caramelized shallots, and pairs miraculously with the blue cheese bread pudding that follows.
ROASTED CHICKEN with APPLES, SHALLOTS, & BACON
I use a roasting pan to cook the chicken, but if you don’t have one, use a rimmed baking sheet.
1 (3 ½- to 4-pound) chicken
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
3 slices thick bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch wedges
8 shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Split the chicken: Discard the “goody bag” inside the chicken. Turn the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears (don’t try to use your desk scissors for this!), starting at the tail and finishing at the neck cavity, cut alongside the backbone. Repeat on opposite side and discard backbone. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut the chicken in half, using the breastbone as a guide.
- Rub the chicken with mustard and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat and cook one of the chicken halves, skin-side down, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to roasting pan, skin-side up. Repeat with second chicken half.
- Add the apples, shallots, and brown sugar to now empty skillet and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden and beginning to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. Add vinegar and sage and season with salt and pepper. Arrange apple mixture around chicken and roast until it’s deep golden brown and juices run clear (thigh meat should register 170° to 175°F) 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board. While the chicken rests, prepare Blue Cheese Bread Pudding.
BLUE CHEESE BREAD PUDDING
Use sturdy bread in this recipe to avoid soggy results.
I used two 4-ounce oval ramekins for this recipe.
Use blue cheese of your choice; I prefer nutty, buttery Stilton.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 cups 1-inch bread cubes
1½ cups heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Grease ramekins with additional 1 tablespoon butter. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and brush them with the melted butter. Bake the cubes until golden and slightly crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, cooked shallots, eggs, thyme, blue cheese, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the toasted bread cubes and stir until they’re evenly coated; allow the mixture to stand 10 minutes for thorough absorption.
- Divide the bread mixture between the two prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with chicken.