Just about everyone loves roasted chicken, because sometimes you just need a really good piece of chicken. I love the homey aromas that waft through my house from the herbs, citrus, and roasting juices. I think of roasted chicken as the “little black dress” of dinners—it’s perfect for Shabbat dinner, a family celebration, or even a weekday meal. The quinoa pilaf is perfect for absorbing all the herbed juices, but there are many other sides that would also be delicious accompaniments. Try roasted purple potatoes or roasted sweet potatoes for a change.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse the chickens thoroughly, pat them dry, and place breast side up on a roasting rack set in a roasting pan. Whisk together the herbs, citrus juices and zests, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. (Kosher chickens are salty to begin with, so use salt sparingly.) Use your hands to rub the chickens thoroughly inside the cavity and out with the herb mixture. Tuck the wings under the body of the chicken and tie the legs together if you wish (this helps keep the shape a little nicer).
Roast the chickens for 20 minutes. Turn down the oven temperature to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and slowly roast, brushing on more of the herb mixture two or three times, until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, about one and a half hours. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chickens to a cutting board or platter. Allow the chickens to rest, loosely covered with foil, before carving. Discard any herb mixture that you haven’t used.
Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a small bowl or measuring cup, and set aside to allow the fat to rise to the top. Skim off the fat; you should have about one cup juices (add some water or chicken stock if needed). Set the roasting pan over medium-high heat and add the wine and shallots. Reduce the wine, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate any browned bits. Pour in the reserved juices and boil the sauce, stirring, until reduced by one-third. Transfer the sauce to a warmed gravy boat or small pitcher for serving.
To carve the chickens, cut down the center along the breast bone on both sides and remove the breast bone. Pull the chicken apart slightly to expose the back bone. Cut along both sides of the back bone and remove it. Cut each half in half again and place the quarters on a serving platter. Serve with the sauce and Quinoa-Mushroom Pilaf.
Quinoa, with its delicate texture and taste, makes a nice change from rice. Botanically, quinoa is a grass, not a grain, so it’s a good option for Passover or anytime you want to try a side that’s a little different.
Thoroughly rinse the quinoa in a large bowl filled with cold water, rubbing the grains together to remove their slightly “soapy” film. Drain the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve. Transfer the quinoa to a medium saucepan and add four cups of water.
Bring to a boil and cook the quinoa over medium heat until it is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain off any excess water, and lightly drizzle the quinoa with olive oil.
Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat, and lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Sauté the shallot and mushrooms until lightly browned and most of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the quinoa with the lemon juice and pine nuts and season with salt and pepper.
Quinoa pilaf can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator, covered. Reheat over gentle heat and toss with additional olive oil.
Reprinted with permission from Jewish Cooking for All Seasons by Laura Frankel, Agate Surrey, 2016.