There’s almost no better way to eat a homegrown, cool-season carrot than raw.
Renowned winter grower Eliot Coleman writes, “The tastiness resulting from fall growing and cool-soil storage elevates the humble carrot to another plane.” Dan and I agree. During a busy harvest morning, we’ll pull a carrot from the ground, brush it off, and enjoy a crunchy, sweet snack in the middle of the garden.
In my opinion, however, there is another “best” way to eat a garden-fresh carrot, and that’s roasted. You can roast carrots on their own, tossed with a bit of olive oil, sea salt and herbs, or you can roast carrots the way I like to do it—beneath a chicken.
Start by completely thawing your chicken in the refrigerator. (For me, this means taking the chicken out of the freezer two days ahead of time.) When you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge and let set for 30 minutes on the counter. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then get started on the prep work.
First, you need to make the herb butter that makes this chicken so delicious. Cut 6 tbsp of butter into a bowl (or food processor if you want to speed up the process). Beat the butter with a spoon or fork until it’s soft and smooth. Chop up fresh parsley, fresh thyme, a green onion (all from your share!), along with 3 cloves of garlic. Toss all this deliciousness into the butter, and add the lemon juice and a touch of salt and pepper. Stir it all together and set aside.
Next, prep your vegetables. Peel and quarter the onion. Trim the carrots (you’re always welcome to trim a little extra for a snack!). Spread the carrots and two of the onion quarters evenly in your roasting pan, and spoon the sherry over the vegetables.
Now back to the chicken. Start by patting the skin dry with paper towels. (In order for the chicken to roast crisply, the skin needs to be dry.) Place the two remaining onion quarters inside the chicken cavity, then tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
Spread half the herb butter over the breast side of the chicken like so:
Then turn the chicken upside-down (breast-side down) on the roasting rack, and carefully dab on the rest of the herb butter:
Roast the chicken in this position for about 20 minutes, until browned, then remove both the chicken and the vegetables from the oven.
Turn the chicken breast-side up, where it’ll stay for the rest of the roasting process. Baste the chicken with the juices from the roasting pan. Flip the carrots and onions so that they’re thoroughly coated with the basting juices, then return everything to the oven.
Roast for 55-70 minutes longer, depending on the size of your chicken. During this time, baste the chicken and vegetables once or twice more. If the chicken’s getting too crispy for your liking, tent the bird with tin foil to protect it from burning. The chicken is done when the internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees.
After removing the chicken from the oven, wrap it in tin foil and let it rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, keep those carrots and onions hot! I often leave the veggies in the oven to continue to roast because I like them best when they’re at the transition point between well-browned to beginning-blackened. If that’s not your preference, remove the veggies and wrap in tin foil.
Admittedly, this recipe is somewhat time-intensive, but I think the end result—fall-off-the-bone chicken, literally-melt-in-your-mouth carrots—is worth every single minute.
For the printable of this recipe, scroll down.
A Couple Notes:
1) For this recipe, I used a chicken that we raised on pasture here at our farm. We’re not currently raising or selling broilers, although we might in the future! We encourage you to purchase chickens that are raised humanely, such as Miller Poultry sold at Tysens in DeMotte.
2) You know I’m not finished with a post until I’ve mentioned something about green smoothies! Carrot tops are full of nutrients, and while I don’t recommend using only carrot tops as your green, I do suggest throwing a few fronds in with your spinach or kale. Let me know what you think!
Photographs and Food Styling: Anne Kingma