- Prep time 24 hours
- Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Serves 4
This is a perfect, use-what-you-have, substitute-where-necessary, it-will-all-come-out-fine type recipe. Weeknight friendly, but made for impressing people you have over for dinner without spending the whole night in the kitchen. Cooking time can be adjusted for chicken pieces. —Jess Goldsmith
- For the roasting pan
6 lb whole chicken
small heads of fennel, fronds set aside
good quality olive oil
thyme, savory, marjoram, or tarragon
- For the pan sauce
fresh lemon juice, plus zest
tender herbs, a mix of what you have on hand (parsley, dill, tarragon all work well here)
small jar capers (brined, not salt packed, drained but not rinsed)
Fennel fronds, removed from heads of fennel and chopped together with herbs
fish sauce, more as needed to taste but NOT optional
- Spatchcock the chicken, saving the spine for stock. Rub the entire surface of the skin with kosher salt, about 2 tablespoons, and place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Set on the top shelf of your fridge, uncovered, for at least 12 hours.
- Prepare the veggies: Slice heads of fennel into full steaks, lengthwise, about 3/4 inch thick. Slice the onions into wedges of a similar thickness, taking care to slice through the connected ends so they stay intact.
- Toss fennel and onions on a baking sheet with 2-3 tbsp olive oil, a large pinch kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Scatter sprigs of thyme, tarragon or savory atop the vegetable wedges and place your dry brined chicken in the center of the sheet over the herbs and veg.
- Mix in a bowl equal parts olive oil and softened butter into a paste. (This is a good time to add roasted or fresh garlic, extra herbs, or any other aromatics you have on hand. I used a ramp compound butter and crushed red chili flakes, but regular salted butter will work just fine.) Slather the mixture on the chicken over top as well as beneath the skin, being sure to replace the skin anywhere it’s been disturbed.
- Place chicken in a preheated 450 degree oven for 15 mins.
- Decrease the heat to 350, and continue to roast for 17 minutes per pound based on the weight of the whole chicken. (If using parts, this won’t take quite as long. Keep an eye until the skin looks very crispy and dark golden, with just-charred bits. Or use an internal thermometer to be certain you’re done.)
- Remove sheet from oven. Discard thyme sprigs, arrange fennel and onions around a serving platter, setting whole chicken to the side for a moment but not removing any juices or fat that have accumulated in the pan.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the lemon juice, fish sauce, and capers. Pour the mixture into the hot baking sheet, and stir well with a fork along the flat surface to incorporate all chicken juices and any brown bits. (If the sauce appears broken, pop the pan under a low broiler for a couple minutes, then stir again with a flat fork - it should incorporate once hot.) Season pan sauce with salt and pepper, and stir in about three quarters of the herbs, chopped together with the fennel fronds, reserving a small handful for plating. Taste for seasoning and add more fish sauce, acid, or salt as needed.
- Pour the entirety of the sauce over the soft roasted fennel and onions, placing the chicken on top so as not to un-crisp the skin. Top the platter with herbs and fennel fronds, a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and a drizzle of good olive oil around the sides of the platter. Serve with crusty bread and butter.