This roast chicken is fairly miraculous all by itself. But combined with a rosemary potato pancake and mushroom sauce, it's over the top — a hearty and flavorful fall meal that will make the family happy.
Serve with steamed carrots and/or Sara Moulton's Stewed Green Beans With Tomato and Mint.
For the chicken
One 4¼ - or 4½ -pound whole chicken, giblets removed
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
For the potato pancake
1 to 1¼ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
1½ tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the mushrooms
¼ cup finely chopped onion
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms, preferably a gourmet blend
Pinch kosher salt
½ cup dry red wine
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken: Cut out the backbone; reserve it for another use (such as stock), and then flatten the bird (spatchcocking; see the NOTE, below).
Combine the lemon zest and juice, salt and garlic in a pan just large enough to hold the bird, whisking until
the salt has dissolved. Whisk in the oil, then use the mixture to coat the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, turning it over several times.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Transfer the chicken to a large rimmed baking sheet. Pour the marinade over the bird through a fine-mesh strainer (to avoid burnt garlic bits). Roast (middle rack) for 35 minutes or until the meat is firm to the touch and the skin is golden brown.
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat/juices from the baking sheet and transfer the chicken to a platter to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Meanwhile, make the potato pancake: Toss the potatoes with the rosemary, salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat half the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Distribute the grated potato evenly on the bottom of the skillet, pressing down firmly to form a pancake.
Reduce the heat to medium; cook for about 15 minutes, pressing on the pancake occasionally with a spatula, until golden brown. Slide the pancake onto a baking sheet or a platter. Invert the skillet over the pancake on the baking sheet and carefully flip the sheet and the pan together to return the pancake, browned side up, to the skillet.
Add the remaining oil around the edges; cook for about 10 minutes, pressing down occasionally with the spatula until browned on the second side.
It can be prepared up to this point and kept off the heat until it is time to finish the chicken, and then reheated over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side.
For the mushrooms: While the chicken is resting, heat the 2 tablespoons of reserved fat/juices in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, then stir in the mushrooms and the
pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender.
Add the wine and increase the heat to medium-high; once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until most of it has evaporated. Add the broth and the juices from the resting chicken; cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Taste and season with salt and/or pepper, as needed.
Cut the chicken into pieces for serving. Divide the potato pancake into 4 equal wedges and place one on each plate. Top with a portion of chicken, then spoon some of the mushrooms and pan sauce over the top. Serve warm.
NOTE: Kitchen shears are the right tool for removing the backbone of the chicken, but a sharp chef's knife will do the trick, too. Stand the bird on its wishbone end with the breasts facing away from you and the legs reaching for the ceiling. Cut down one side of the backbone from top to bottom; repeat on the other side of the backbone, and then remove it. Flatten the bird by pressing down hard with both hands on the breast halves.
NUTRITIONAL ANALYSES | Per serving (chicken and mushroom sauce): 450 calories, 48 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 23 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 135 mg cholesterol, 750 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar
Per serving (potato pancake): 210 calories, 2 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 420 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to email@example.com
Moulton is the host of "Sara's Weeknight Meals," a public television show now in its sixth season.