Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine, one you may have already met. Millions of people make her food, buy her books, and are each week invited into her home in the Hamptons for a perfectly curated meal. I’m usually watching from the bushes, but I feel deep within my soul that I know her better than anyone: Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, my queen. I call her by her first name; actually, I whisper it—Ina—softly when I’m daydreaming about her, or shriek it—Ina!—when one of her recipes requires an ingredient that’s especially difficult to procure (say, organic heirloom saffron or the tears of a newborn baby collected under a blood moon). Kidding, mostly, but her passion for refinement and attention to detail inspire me.
She’s also living the dream, or at least one version of it: a gorgeous wood house in the Hamptons with massive gardens, a barn for entertaining, and an entire pantry devoted to her white plates and serving platters. And then there’s how she lives it: brunches with her city friends (read: New York City Gays), bridge and cocktails with her Hamptons friends (read: Hamptons Gays), and collaborative dinners with her friends who also like to entertain (read: Flower Gays). Then there’s her marriage, which is my ideal—full of love and respect and only seeing each other on the weekends. It’s at the start of each of these weekends that Ina makes Jeffrey one of my favorite dishes, a simple and beautifully roasted chicken. Don’t let the humble-sounding name fool you; a roasted bird is worth two in the bush. At least, I think that’s how the saying goes.
Our roast chicken recipe has absolutely been influenced by the many Ina’s baked over the years, and, by relying on a few classic ingredients, you can make the roast chicken soar. Please feel free to reference one of her basic recipes if you like, or use only the one here, but don’t let the “Holidays at Bon Appetit” vibe of these pictures dissuade you from a meal that’s as delicious as it is easy to make. Pop your bird in the oven, call your best friends (read: Gays), break out the cards and cocktails, and work on your Ina impersonation (mine involves a kicky popped collar and tittering nervously as I answer the door). When you’re finished with dinner, I only have one question for you. Plainly put, how easy is that?
- 1 roasting chicken
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme
- 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
- 6 small red potatoes, quartered
- 8 oz. of whole Brussels sprouts
- 3 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 head of garlic, sliced in half crosswise
- 1 lemon, quartered
- ½ cup olive oil, for drizzling
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- Remove the chicken giblets (reserve for homemade chicken stock) and rinse your chicken. Dry the chicken with paper towels.
- Over low to medium heat, heat your butter in a stainless steel saucepan with 10-15 whole sprigs of thyme. Stir constantly until it is a light brown color, nutty and fragrant (approximately 3 minutes). Remove the browned butter from the saucepan to prevent burning, and set aside.
- Place the chicken in a large roasting dish or pan, and liberally salt and pepper the inside and outside of the chicken.
- Stuff the chicken with half of the lemon quarters, half the sliced head of garlic & browned butter thyme sprigs. Pour the browned butter over the chicken and rub into the chicken and under the skin.
- Toss all prepared vegetables, with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, remaining lemon slices, salt & pepper, and arrange around the chicken in the roasting dish/pan. Toss approximately 20 sprigs of thyme around the vegetables.
- Bake the chicken and vegetables uncovered for 1½ hours. Remove the chicken from the roasting pan, and place on your serving dish (covered) to rest.
- Remove drippings from the roasting pan (reserve for gravy) and broil the vegetables in the same roasting pan for 10 minutes, or until browned. Plate vegetables around the chicken on a large dish, and serve immediately.