Recently I have been experimenting with roasting chicken and vegetables together. I can’t seem to get the technique right with the veggies. The chicken is always good but sometimes the vegetables get burnt. What’s your understanding about roasting vegetables?
My experience with roasting chickens and vegetables has always been to roast them separately. I have never had much luck with roasting the veg around or underneath the chicken. However, as this is the most efficient way to get a meal on the table, I am willing to offer advice based on theory.
My experience has always been that the vegetables don’t get crunchy and carmelized enough for my liking when they are swimming in the chicken juices. If the vegetables are burning, that’s different. You might experiment with either adding the vegetables after the chicken has been in the oven a bit and see if the shorter roasting doesn’t keep them from getting charred past the delicious point. You might also chunk them up into bigger pieces and cook them with the bird from the beginning. Having watched my mom do meat and veg together for a roast dinner, I can surmise that this is a workable option. Her onions were always peeled but whole, potatoes peeled and halved width-wise, and carrots were peeled but whole. Other veg, like fennel bulbs, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, etc., could all be prepared similarly. More tender vegetables like summer squashes, eggplant, or tomatoes, I would recommend to do separately.
On roasting them separately: I really recommend this as the way to go, especially if you have a large enough oven or can do the bird first or some such. You can season them more aggressively or differently but complementarily to the bird. For roasted potatoes I do the following:
Wash and remove any browned or bruisied spots from two pounds of small, waxy potatoes (such as Yukon Gold or Red Bliss). If they are new potatoes you can leave as is, if they are bigger halve or quarter them. Rinse and dry thoroughly (I pour them into a kitchen towel and rub them). In a bowl large enough to accomodate all your potatoes, pour in two to three tablespoons of olive or canola oil, about two teaspoons of dried rosemary crushed, and cayenne to taste (I do about 1/2 teaspoon). Swirl this around and dump in the potatoes and stir to coat. Spread these out on a lipped baking sheet and bake in 425 degree oven, usually 25 to 30 minutes, but I check every 5 minutes or so shaking the pan to move them around a bit. You’re looking for nicely browned and blistered skins. This works with sweet potatoes, carrots and fennel and I have heard really good things about roasting cauliflower this way as well. Adjust the seasonings to your taste and try other things as well. Taragon is great with the potatoes, especially if serving with fish.
I also highly recommend Roasting by Barbara Kafka. All of her books are good for leisurely reading and serious cooking. Here is an Amazon link to an article by Kafka with some other recipes.
It would be great if other foodieporn pot stirrers or readers would like to weigh in on this. Please add your insights in the comments section.