When Unexpected Company Comes, Roast a Chicken!

With only two days notice that we would have overnight guests on a recent Tuesday, I quickly switched our weekly menus so that the Roast Chicken with Carrots, Baby Potatoes, Leeks and Bacon dish would be our feast for dinner. Never mind that we never made it before, that’s just the way we roll. (Luckily we’ve had very few disasters.)


Nephew Desi and his recent bride Stacey, along with their way-too-cute 11-month-old son Aspen, were making their way back to Florida after two weeks in the Northeast for their wedding, and our house was conveniently located in the path toward the auto-train in Lorton, VA. (They stayed up with us pretty late that night and had to depart before the crack of dawn to drive for hours in rush hour traffic, ugh.)


While the number of steps might seem a bit daunting, it is actually an easy recipe where everything goes in one pot, cooks for an hour or so in the oven, and voila, dinner! Little Aspen had just started walking so Stacey was keeping him occupied while he played peek-a-boo under our island, and Desi helped me with some of the prep.



The end result produced a perfectly moist chicken, although we could have probably left it in the oven a bit longer so the skin became even crispier. But it was already 8:00 and dark out, and since we were dining al fresco, we figured we shouldn’t delay dinner any longer than necessary.

In hindsight I realized I missed two steps. The potatoes should have been cut in half (or quarters), but I left them whole, although they were totally cooked through. And I also neglected to sprinkle the veggies with the chopped parsley, but nobody seemed to notice the omission.

Everyone loved the meal, and Aspen couldn’t get enough of the chicken! This rates a place in our treasured roasting recipes…



  • 1, 3-4 whole chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 10 small sprigs
  • 4 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh thyme, plus 4 sprigs
  • 3 large leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and rinsed; plus dark green parts from 1 leek, rinsed and reserved
  • 3 strips thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise 3/8-inch thick
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 lb. baby multi-colored potatoes, cut in half or quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened


  1. Discard the giblets from the chicken, trim off any excess fat from the cavity and neck, and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Generously season the chicken inside and out with 1 Tbs. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
  3. Stuff the cavity with the parsley sprigs, 3 of the bay leaves (if fresh, crush slightly), 2 sprigs of thyme, and the dark leek greens.
  4. Tuck the wings behind the neck, using the wingtips to secure any loose neck skin if With only two days notice that we would have overnight guests necessary. Tie the legs together with string. Let rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  6. In a 6-quart round roaster, cook the bacon in the oil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 7 minutes.
  7. Leaving the bacon in the pan, spoon out and reserve all but 1 Tbs. fat.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium and add the leeks, garlic and remaining bay leaf and thyme sprigs, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  9. Cook stirring occasionally until the leeks are soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  10. In the same pan, arrange half of the carrots and potatoes in an even layer, seasoning very lightly with salt and pepper, then scatter the leek mixture over the top. Layer the remaining carrots and potatoes over the leeks with more slat and pepper. Pour the broth over the vegetables.
  11. Pour 1 Tbs. of the reserved bacon fat into the cavity of the chicken. Rub the softened butter over the bird’s skin and sprinkle with the chopped thyme. Set the chicken, breast side up, on the vegetables.
  12. Roast the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 to 170 degrees, about 1 hour.
  13. Transfer the chicken to a platter, remove the string, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for about 15 minutes.
  14. Meanwhile, discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and keep the vegetables warm in the oven.
  15. Sprinkle the carrots and potatoes with the chopped parsley, arrange them around the chicken and serve.
    After the bird rested a while, Russ started carving the meat.

Recipe found in an All-Clad magazine advertisement

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