Maple-mustard roasted chicken is a family dinner with big flavors

food, maple-mustard roasted chicken is a family dinner with big flavors

Maple-mustard roasted chicken is a family dinner with big flavors

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The days are shortening, the air is brisk and there are just about as many leaves on the ground as there are on the trees. As soon as the temperature drops below 50 degrees, I find myself wanting to crank up the oven. It’s the season for braises and roasts.

This recipe, for a maple-mustard roasted chicken, is inspired by one from the British author Diana Henry’s cookbook “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors.” I love how thoughtful she was about this collection of recipes. The idea was to build upon the theme of her 2004 book, “Pure Simple Cooking,” which she wrote shortly after having her first child.

“He cried constantly,” Henry wrote in the introduction, “so I was always carrying him and had no hands free. The more elaborate cooking I’d enjoyed before his arrival went out the window. In fact, I ate takeout pizzas for quite a few weeks after his birth, often through tears as I wondered if I would ever manage to cook again.”

It’s a sentiment all of my friends with young children have expressed to me. I try to feature simple recipes in this newsletter, but only working parents know what a truly simple recipe looks like. “I started to make dishes that were just stuck in the oven,” Henry continues. “I didn’t mind if they took a long time to cook, only about whether they took a long time to prepare. … It has meant a lot to me that people cite ‘Cook Simple’ [her 2010 book] as a cookbook that really helped them. It’s not because it is a book of quick food, but a book of low-effort food.”

That’s the ticket: Food that doesn’t require too much hands-on time, but delivers satisfying flavors.

Here, you’ll make a butter, maple syrup and mustard mixture. It gets lightly brushed on the bird before going into the oven, and then thickly brushed on just before the bird comes out. You end up with a burnished, tender and almost sticky chicken thanks to this sweet-and-savory sauce.

For Henry’s recipe, the bird is roasted with fresh figs. Where I live, fresh figs are hard to get, so I tried this with a hardy combination of onions and carrots. They roast beneath the chicken, catching its juices, for a one-pan meal that takes just 15 minutes to put together, and 45 to cook.

The one tricky part of this recipe is spatchcocking the chicken. If you’ve never done it before, I’ll explain the general method (it’s also described in detail below). I like to use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone. Then, I flip the bird and press down on its breastbone, which allows it to lay flat. This helps it cook much more quickly. If you’re pressed for time, ask your supermarket butcher to do this part for you.

Henry recommends serving this with a grain such as brown rice, bulgur or freekeh cooked with finely grated orange zest.

food, maple-mustard roasted chicken is a family dinner with big flavors

Maple Mustard Roasted Chicken

  • No maple syrup? >> Use honey or brown sugar instead.
  • Want to skip the butter? >> Olive oil works fine.
  • Don’t care for chicken? >> Try this with a pork loin, which will take much less time to cook.
  • If you don’t eat meat >> I would brush this marinade on portobello mushroom caps. Roast the carrots and onions until they’re barely tender before adding the mushroom caps to the pan.

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  • 1 bunch small carrots (1 pound total), trimmed, scrubbed and very roughly chopped
  • 2 small yellow onions (10 ounces total), cut into eighths
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
  • One (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more as needed

Step 1

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Step 2

Spread the onions and carrots on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil, and toss until lightly coated.

Step 3

In a small bowl, use a pastry brush to combine the melted butter, mustard, maple syrup and chopped thyme or rosemary.

Step 4

Spatchcock the chicken: Set the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Remove the giblets, if included. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken’s backbone to remove it. Turn the bird breast side up and use the heels of your hands to press down on the breast bone, flattening it slightly. Trim excess fat, if desired. Pat it dry and season it on all sides and in all crevices with salt and pepper. Lay it over the vegetables on the baking sheet, breast side up. Lightly brush the chicken all over with the maple-mustard mixture and slide it into the hot oven, with its legs facing the back of the oven.

Step 5

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, or until it begins to brown. Using tongs, toss the vegetables so they brown evenly. Baste the chicken heavily with the maple-mustard mixture, then roast for 5 minutes. Baste it with the remaining maple-mustard mixture, and then roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees and the juices run clear. Let the chicken rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving. (To avoid contaminating your cooked bird, do not apply any more of the maple-mustard mixture once your bird is fully cooked.) Serve with the onions and carrots on the side.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (2 pieces of chicken, 1 cup vegetables)

Calories: 530; Total Fat: 20 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 219 mg; Sodium: 981 mg; Carbohydrates: 26 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugar: 14 g; Protein: 64 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Simple” by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, 2016).

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Catch up on this week’s Eat Voraciously recipes:

Monday: Green Lentil Soup With Noodles and Mint

Tuesday: Eggs in a Hole With Frisee Salad

Wednesday: Kabocha Squash and Peanut Stew

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