Let me just say, to die for! Venezuelan guasacaca, a bright, tangy sauce made from avocados, herbs and mild green chilies, is a standard accompaniment to grilled meats and chicken, and it is amazing. Here, we simply roast bone-in chicken thighs and/or breasts in a hot oven—it’s that simple. The cool, creamy avocado sauce is a perfect contrast to the golden brown, crisp-skinned meat.
We used a combination of breasts and thighs, and if you do the same, cut the breast halves in half again so they are uniform size to the thighs. The jalapeño, even though quite large, provided just a slight bit of heat because it was seeded and stemmed.
If you so choose, make the accompanying basmati rice dish. The grains do not stick together making it light and fluffy, and is a wonderful pairing with the chicken. Each dish taking about the same amount of time to cook.
3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs OR breasts OR a combination, trimmed and patted dry
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
1 1/2 cups lightly packed cilantro OR flat-leaf parsley, plus extra chopped, to serve
1 jalapeño chili, stemmed and seeded
1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
Optional garnish: Lime wedges OR crumbled queso fresco OR chopped pickled jalapeños OR a combination
Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the oil, then season with salt and pepper. Arrange skin side up and roast until the thickest part of the breast (if using) reaches about 160°F and the thickest part of the largest thigh (if using) reaches about 175°F, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the avocados, cilantro, jalapeño, onion, vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Process until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a platter and pour over any accumulated juices. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with the sauce.
This unique rice dish is especially delicious and incorporates deeply caramelized onions. Their rich savory-sweetness is a perfect complement to the earthy cumin and nutty, aromatic basmati rice. Made with simple pantry staples, it’s an easy yet flavor-packed side, ideal for pairing with any roasted or grilled vegetables or meat as well as with curries or dal.
3 Tbsp. ghee OR salted butter, cut into 3 pieces, divided
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 cardamom pods
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained
Chopped fresh cilantro, to serve (optional)
In a large saucepan over medium-high, melt the ghee. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally to start and more often once browning begins, until the onions are deeply caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes; reduce the heat if the onions brown very unevenly or too quickly.
Add the cumin and cardamom; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the rice, 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to low, cover and cook without stirring until the rice has absorbed the liquid, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
Using a fork, fluff the rice; remove and discard the cardamom. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If desired, serve sprinkled with cilantro.
Go ahead and make this cozy one-dish meal the centerpiece of your Sunday supper. Hailing from Molly Stevens cookbook All About Roasting, it’s not meant to be fancy or elegant—just tasty and very satisfying; and Molly doesn’t disappoint.
For the full effect you want to use a large 5-to-6 pound chicken, sometimes labeled as oven-roasters. If unable to find large chickens, use two, three-pounders, however your cooking times will be less, so cut your veggies smaller. Molly uses a unique technique to keep the breast from drying out by sneaking some diced bacon under the skin. As the bacon slowly renders its fat, it moistens the breast while imparting some smoky goodness.
Then for even more flavor, the bird gets brushed with melted butter mixed with honey and balsamic vinegar. This tangy-sweet glaze turns the breast a rich caramelly-varnish color, even though it’s roasting in a moderate oven. Make sure to use a low-sided roasting pan or gratin dish which allows more of the bird to get browned.
You can choose your own hardy root vegetables for the mix. We used carrots, parsnips and celery root, although you could substitute any of that with potatoes (sweet or regular), turnips, beets, etc. The veggies will soak up plenty of savory juices as they roast.
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. mixed root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets, turnips, celery root and/or rutabaga, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 Tbsp. dried herbes de Provence, plus more as needed
1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1 medium onion. ends cut off, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
Trim and Season the Chicken — Over the sink, remove the giblets and discard or reserve for another use. Drain off any liquid and dry the chicken inside and out with paper towels. Pull off and discard any large deposits of fat form the neck or body cavity opening. Use your fingertips to gently loosen the skinover the chicken breast, starting at the cavity opening, and push the diced bacon under the skin, doing your best to spread it evenly over the breast. Season the chicken generously all over with salt and pepper. Let the chicken stand for one hour.
Heat the Oven — Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat 375°F (350° convection).
Season the Vegetables — Place all of the vegetables (except red beets if using) in a large mixing bowl. If using red beets, place them in a separate bowl so they don’t stain the other veggies. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and season with 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper, tossing to coat.
Make the Glaze — Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in the vinegar and honey and set aside in a warm place.
Roast the Chicken and Vegetables — Arrange the onion slices in a single layer in the center of a low-sided (important) roasting pan or dish (approx. 15″ x 12″). Set the chicken breast side up on the onions and tie the legs together using kitchen twine. Arrange the veggies all around . They should be a dense single layer if possible. Slide the chicken into the oven, preferably with the legs facing away from the door. After 25 minutes, brush the breast and drumsticks with some of the glaze and nudge the vegetables around with a metal spatula to promote even cooking. Don’t worry if you can’t stir them thoroughly, it’s nice to have some more browned than others. Continue roasting, brushing on additional glaze, and stirring the veggies at 20-minute intervals, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (without touching bone) registers 170 degrees.If at any point the chicken seems to be getting darker on one side than the other, rotate the pan in the oven.
Rest, Carve and Serve — Transfer the chicken to a carving board (preferably one with a trough to catch the juices, and let it rest for about 20 minutes. Leave the sliced onions in the pan with the other vegetables, and give them all a good stir with the metal spatula, scraping up any browned bits and coating the pan with the juices. Poke a few different vegetables with the tip of a knife to be sure they are nice and tender; if not, return the pan to the oven for at least another 10 minutes to finish roasting while the chicken rests. Carve the chicken and add any accumulated juices to the vegetables, giving them all a good stir before serving.