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Roast chicken with apples

(food styling/sheryl julian; Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
By Emily Gelsomin
December 3, 2008

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Serves 4

Apples lend a hint of sweetness to a traditional roast chicken and paired with rosemary and thyme, the fruit becomes savory. Roast chicken is quintessential comfort food. It's also economical and easy. A whole chicken is less expensive than parts and if you have 15 minutes to prep the bird, you can have dinner on the table in a little over an hour. This bird cooks in a hot oven surrounded by apples, carrots, and onions tossed with fresh herbs. The chicken is intentionally large. On another night, add shredded meat to pasta or wrap it in a whole-wheat tortilla with lettuce and tomatoes. To stretch the meal even further, simmer the carcass with more onions and carrots to make homemade stock.

3 tart apples, cored and quartered
6 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, quartered
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
8 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds)

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. In a large roasting pan, place apples, carrots, and onions.

2. Remove the leaves from 4 sprigs of rosemary and 4 of thyme and roughly chop. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the chopped rosemary and thyme to the apple mixture. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss well; move the mixture to the edges of the pan.

3. Remove giblets from chicken and pat chicken dry with paper towels. At the neck end, gently pull the skin away from the flesh to create a pocket. Insert 4 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme, pushing the herbs well down into the breast.

4. Place chicken in the center of the roasting pan, breast up. Insert a few pieces of apple and onion inside the cavity of the bird. Generously season the cavity with salt and pepper. Rub the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil on the chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped herbs.

5. Roast the chicken for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees. Remove the bird from the roasting pan and set in a warm place for 10 minutes. Return the vegetables to the oven. Continue cooking for 10 minutes while the bird rests.

6. Carve the breast meat off the bird. Cut off the whole legs, then separate the legs from the thighs. Carve the meat off the thighs.