My goodness. Just when I don’t think Ina can nail another recipe she comes out with her ‘Make it Ahead‘ book and everything, of course, is perfection as always.
This recipe is a much needed reprieve from the abundance of stews, braised meats, and chilis that have been in serious rotation at our home. Love them all, but sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of a change. Don’t worry, it’s still got that homemade comfort vibe we all crave during the chilly winter months but errors on the lighter side.
Well, except that bread.
You GUYS. So, let’s break this down. A perfectly seasoned whole chicken sits on top of thick slices of country bread all nestled in a cast iron skillet. It rocks away in the oven for 45 minutes or so and then…..bam.
What you are gifted with is the most wonderful gooey yet crispy seasoned bread that is then all chopped up and tossed together with the dressed arugula.
Now in your home, people may be dignified and take a proportionate serving of each the chicken, arugula, and bread. Yet in ours? It was a serious struggle, man. Like, I blinked and the bread was basically gone. Two little sets of evil eyes chomping away on the goodness. Let’s also note the husband had a nice heaping portion on his plate. Must be nice.
At least I was left with the delicious roasted chicken and arugula. And one teeny tiny burnt corner of bread I found still stuck in the skillet. Us moms always seem to get the short end of the stick, wouldn’t you agree?
So I guess the only complaint I would have about this recipe is, well, not enough of the bread. I’m going to need a bigger skillet.
- 1 (4- to 4½-pound) whole chicken
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus extra for serving
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 to 4 (¾-inch-thick) slices country bread (stuff as many as you can in there!)
- olive oil
- ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
- 2 tablespoons dried currants
- 6 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (6 to 8 ounces)
- Place the chicken in a baking dish. Using your fingers, gently loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs without breaking the skin. Slide the sprigs of thyme and the garlic under the skin. Put the lemon in the cavity. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under the body. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of sea salt and the pepper, cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. (I only had time for a few hours in the fridge and it was just as delicious!)
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!) Place the bread in a medium (10-inch) cast-iron skillet in a single layer. Brush the chicken with olive oil and place it, breast side up, on top of the bread. Roast for 30 minutes, turn it over and roast for 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Wrap the skillet tightly with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for a full 30 minutes. (Don’t worry; it will stay hot.) The bread will be almost burnt on the bottom and soft with the pan drippings on top. This is all where the magic happens.
- Place the Arugula Salad in a very large, shallow serving platter. Put the chicken and the bread on a cutting board. Cut the bread into 1-inch squares and sprinkle them on the salad. Carve the chicken thickly and place it on top of the salad. Spoon the pan juices over the chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt, and serve warm.
- Whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup.
- Whisk in the olive oil, stir in the scallions and currants, and set aside.
- Place the arugula in a large bowl, add the vinaigrette, and toss well.