Tired of mashed potatoes and gravy with your roast chicken? Here’s a classic dinner with a flavorful punch of fresh herbs — plus sweet roasted fennel and carrots, which absorb savory juices from the chicken by sharing the same pan.
Believe it or not, roasting a whole chicken isn’t a chore — the time it takes can be trimmed significantly by butterflying and searing the bird first. You won’t have to worry about getting the skin crisp and golden in the oven alone.
For a finishing touch, I've made a classic Italian garnish of gremolata, which incorporates garlic, lemon peel, and fresh herbs — usually parsley. But if you have whole carrots and fennel with healthy-looking greens still intact, you can use them in place of the fresh herbs!
Roast Chicken with Fennel, Carrots, and Gremolata
4 to 5 medium carrots, with the greens included
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 1/2-pound whole chicken
1 pound red potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic
Trim the stems and fronds from the fennel bulb and reserve for a later use. Cut the bulb into half lengthwise, then quarters. Trim the tough core at the stem from each quarter. Trim the carrot tops and reserve for a later use. Cut the carrots in 2- to 3-inch-long pieces. Toss the vegetables with a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple pinches of salt and pepper.
Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. To butterfly the chicken, use kitchen shears to cut along either side of the backbone, removing the backbone entirely. (You can save the backbone for stock!) Splay the chicken open and season both sides generously with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Warm a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron pan (about 9 inches in diameter). Once the pan is hot, place the chicken skin-side down on the pan. Let cook without turning or moving the chicken for about 5 minutes, or until the underside is golden-brown when peeking with tongs. Transfer the chicken briefly to a plate, and arrange the fennel and carrots on the bottom of the cast iron pan. Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables, this time skin-side up.
Transfer the cast iron pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh meat.
Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into halves and toss with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake in the oven with the chicken for about 30 minutes (depending on the size), or until tender.
To make the gremolata, finely chop about 1/2 cup each of the fennel fronds and the carrot greens. Mince the clove of garlic, and zest the lemon (you should get about 2 teaspoons). Combine the fennel fronds, carrot greens, garlic, and lemon zest in a bowl and set aside.
Once the chicken is done, squeeze all over with lemon juice and top with the gremolata. Serve with the potatoes and vegetables.