I read recently that Julia Child once said, "You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken."
She said a lot more about basting and hovering over that bird, but I'm going to ignore that. I don't do either. However, if you are going to judge my cooking, based on my roast chicken, then I am A-OK with that!
I have been roasting chickens for years. Sometimes they were dry, and other times they were juicy, but bland. I eventually hit upon what, for me, is perfection.
I love dill weed on roast chicken. It's something I started doing years ago, and it is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken. And of course, lots of garlic. I sprinkle the skin liberally with garlic powder, and for good measure and extra flavor, I put an entire head of garlic and a lemon inside the chicken.
That being said, this chicken is neither lemony or garlicky it's just delicious.
I also add vegetables under the chicken for two reasons. First, the vegetables add additional flavor to the pan drippings, and second, it's practically a one-dish meal. While the celery all but cooks away, the carrots are a sweet side dish. Add potatoes or other root vegetables to take it one step further. In the fall, I would even consider adding Brussels sprouts.
The recipe for Avocado Mashed Potatoes comes from my daughter Amanda. She tries to eat an avocado a day because they are full of nutrients and the kind of fat that's good for you. Because avocados already have a rich, buttery taste, you don't need to add much more than some seasoning for this dish.
Amanda makes excellent mashed potatoes, the kind that are loaded with butter and sour cream. When she said these were just as good, I needed some convincing. Well, she was right. Not only are they delicious, they really are good for you!
You can make them even healthier by using unsweetened almond milk or soy milk instead of regular milk, or even a little chicken broth, to get the right consistency.
Other than their light green color, I would never have guessed these were healthy mashed potatoes. That green color may also be the perfect way to get your kids to eat a little healthier. Green potatoes? What could be more fun than that?
Serves 6-8, plus leftovers
1 6-7 pound roasting chicken (with a pop up timer if possible)
5-6 stalks of celery, cut into 3-inch pieces
5-6 carrots, peeled, sliced in half and cut into 3-inch pieces
3 onions, quartered
1 lemon, sliced in half
1 head of garlic, sliced in half
3 tablespoons flour
In a roasting pan, just a bit bigger than your chicken, make a bed with the celery, carrots and onion.
Remove the neck and any other body parts from inside the chicken, then rinse and pat dry. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables in the roasting pan.
Rub about two tablespoons of oil all over the chicken. Season inside cavity with about a half teaspoon of salt. Season top and sides of chicken with a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of black pepper, a half teaspoon of garlic powder and a half teaspoon of dill weed.
Place the lemon pieces and the two garlic halves inside the cavity of the chicken. Tuck the wings under the bird. You may tie the legs together with kitchen string if you like, but it isn't necessary.
Roast the chicken in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until timer pops up. Remove chicken from roasting pan and set aside to rest.
To make gravy, drain the liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan into a gravy fat separator. (If you don't have a separator, you can pour the liquid into a measuring cup and let it sit for a few minutes until the fat and liquid separate, then carefully ladle the fat from the liquid.)
In the roasting pan over low heat, pour two cups of chicken broth and the pan juices, plus about two tablespoons of fat. Combine three tablespoons of flour with about to 1/2 cup of water. (The easiest way to do this is to put the flour and water in a small jar and shake it until it's smooth.)
Increase the heat, and slowly whisk the flour mixture into the liquid, stirring constantly until the gravy is thickened. Serve with the chicken.
6-8 large Yukon Gold potatoes
1 medium ripe avocado
Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch chunks. Boil for approximately 15 minutes in salted water until tender. Drain. Peel avocado and cut up into hot potatoes. Mash with a potato masher, or use a hand mixer to combine. Add about to 1/2 cup of milk, depending on how fluffy you like your mashed potatoes.
Add salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder to taste, and beat or stir in until combined.