While it’s mid-July and everyone has moved on to the stone fruits – wouldn’t that be a fun name for a band? – I’m still clinging to rhubarb season. What can I say? I’m not tired of it and since I can still find a stalk or two in my grocery store I’ve decided not to let go quite yet. At least not until I had a chance to make this Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter and Asparagus from the May issue of Bon Appétit.
Roast chicken in high summer probably sounds insane – turn on the oven? To 400 degrees?!? Hear me out though and it will start to seem a little more reasonable.
Point 1: Here’s your chance to practice some really easy chef-y things like making compound butter and poaching. Essentially you’re just cooking the rhubarb pieces until they soften enough to mix into softened butter. The end. See? But doing them makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something super fancy.
Point 2: You can make extras and how could having deliciously summery roast chicken for salads or in a sandwich ever turn out badly? Getting some of the heavy lifting done all at once means you can put your feet up knowing that dinner tomorrow is already done!
Point 3: The most important point of all - this roast chicken is wonderful. The compound butter has fresh ginger and rhubarb that’s been lightly poached in orange juice lends a bright, slightly spicy, citrus sweetness to the meat. Frankly, I’d love to do a marinade version of these flavors as a start and then go double or nothing with the compound butter. A plan for next summer, perhaps?
Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter (serves: 4)
1 cup (1 large stalk) rhubarb, large diced
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled ginger
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3½–4 pound whole chicken, or 4-6 bone-in pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Dice rhubarb stalk into 1/2 inch pieces, peel the ginger and finely grate. Bring the diced rhubarb, orange juice, honey, and grated ginger to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb softens and is easily pieced with a fork, about 5 minutes.
Drain the rhubarb through a fine mesh sieve over a small bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid and rhubarb separately; let cool.
Add the room temperature butter to the rhubarb and mix until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Dry the chicken with paper towels and place skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Gently slide your fingers underneath skin to loosen and spread the rhubarb butter underneath taking care not to tear the skin. Drizzle the chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and some of the reserved rhubarb cooking liquid, scatter thyme over, and season with salt and pepper.
Roast chicken until skin is browned and crisp and meat is cooked through, about 40-50 minutes. The juices will run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh should register 165 degrees F. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Rewritten and slightly adapted from Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter and Asparagus from the May 2015 issue of Bon Appétit.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Surprisingly, yes. I used a small sauce pan, medium mesh sieve, liquid measuring cup, chef’s knife, small cutting board, and microplane grater. I also needed a small bowl, rubber spatula, baking pan, tongs, measuring spoons, instant read thermometer, and paper towels.
Roast chicken is one of my all-time favorite things to eat. It’s so simple that the seasoning really has to be spot-on or sadly it can be flavorless and disappointing. No need to worry on that account with this recipe. The chicken is beautifully juicy and tender – a close your eyes it’s so good first bite – the rhubarb is light, a little acidic, and perfectly balanced by the just slightly sticky spice of the orange juice and ginger.