Or, Well! I never ever in my life….
Never ever did I think I would combine chicken with rhubarb to make one of the most delectable and tasty roast chickens I’ve ever had! A surprising and fabulous flavor!
We all know that Roasted chicken is a fairly easy but elegant dish. Just oil or butter a chicken, add some flavorings, toss it in the oven to roast for an hour. Delicious. Well, just kick that recipe to the curb. THIS recipe totally raises the bar on that chicken.
When I leafed through the May 2015 issue of Bon Apetit, I stopped in my tracks when I read the title of the recipe. “Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter and Asparagus.” Now I do love rhubarb. Rhubarb Pie, Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam, Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake. All sweet things. Not a savory on that list.
Also, being an Indiana girl, where, by the way, the BEST rhubarb is grown, I’m a sucker for it at this time of year. However, now that I reside in the PNW (Pacific NorthWest), I have to say, the rhubarb here is, well….dare I put it in writing…not that great. Sorry PNW, but it’s true. It’s a bit…um…mild here. Sometimes even bland. I’m not being mean or spiteful, just truthful. Growing up in Indiana, rhubarb was tart, robust, tons of flavor! Soooo good in a crisp or a pie, either by itself or complementing a lucious strawberry. Here in the PNW, we search for good rhubarb. Certain markets have “acceptable” rhubarb, of which we always choose the darkest of the firm red stalks. My friend Kim also grows some pretty good stalks. Teresa, who is also an Indiana girl, has been known to bring a bag of rhubarb back on a plane so we could have a taste of the Midwest! So worth it.
Anyways, regardless of the local rhubarb situation, I was compelled to make this recipe. And it did not disappoint. And, if you are living on the Midwest, consider me jealous of your rhubarb….and your tomatoes, but that’s another post.
I highly recommend it, it will rock your Roasted Chicken World!
Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter and Asparagus
(Adapted from Bon Apetit Magazine, May 2015, p 104)
1 large rhubarb stalk, cut into 1/2″ chunks
1/4 c orange juice
2 T honey
1 T grated fresh ginger
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 chicken, approx. 4 lb, backbone removed. (You can ask your butcher to do this, but it isn’t difficult with a sharp knife)
2 T olive oil
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 bunch asparagus
2 lemons, halved
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a small saucepan, mix together the rhubarb, orange juice, honey and ginger. Cook over medium heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer until rhubarb is soft. It should not be falling apart at this point. Over a small bowl, drain the liquid. It should be a lovely pink color. Reserve the liquid.
Let the rhubarb cool a bit, and then mix with butter. Stir until the rhubarb is incorporated and you can’t see bits of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Yours may be a darker color, depending on the specific rhubarb you used.
Remove the backbone from your chicken, unless you had a butcher do this. Using a sharp butcher knife, cut right along both sides of the backbone, from top to bottom. Discard bone or save for stock. Turn the chicken skin-side up, flatten it on a baking sheet. Pat dry the skin.
Loosen the skin from the flesh of the chicken. Sometimes you can do this with your fingers. But you may need a small paring knife to gently cut through the thin membrane that connects skin to flesh. Be careful to not tear the skin. Next, using a spoon, scoop ALL BUT 1 TABLESPOON of the rhubarb butter between the skin and flesh, making sure it coats as much area of the chicken as you can reach.
Brush the skin with the 1 T of the olive oil, followed by a couple tablespoons of the reserved rhubarb liquid. Sprinkle with thyme leaves, followed generously with salt and pepper.
Roast 40-50 minutes. The skin should be brown and crispy. If you insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, it should read 165F. Let rest 15 minutes, while you prepare the asparagus.
Coat asparagus with the remaining 1T olive oil, then salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet on high heat. Add the asparagus and lemons, face down. Cook until asparagus is tender and lemons are dark brown. Coat the asparagus with the remaining rhubarb butter. Serve with chicken and lemons to squeeze on everything!