Make this after you’ve had a shit day where everything’s been shit and it’s all gone to shit. Honestly, it’s just the thing. Super creamy leeks all caramelized in chicken juices. Crispy skin. Velvety pan sauce. It’s the edible equivalent of lying on the couch and rolling yourself all up in blankets. Plus the leftovers are happy to get tossed into some delicious chicken soup, which you’re probably going to need to shield you from the next shit storm headed your way.
Weeknight Roast Chicken w/ Leeks & Creamy Pan Sauce
Adapted oh-so-minimally from Andrew Knowlton (October 2017)
1 chicken, roughly 3 ½ - 4 lb (1.5 - 1.8 kg)
Plenty of kosher salt
3 fat leeks
Plenty of olive oil
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
3 tbsp heavy cream
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season both the inside and outside generously with kosher salt (you want ~1 tsp/lb). Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and let sit in the fridge for 1 hour.
Place a rack in the top of the oven (with enough room between the ceiling and rack for the chicken to sit without touching the element) and set a cast-iron skillet, or other large ovenproof pan, on the top rack. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
While the skillet and oven preheat, cut the dark green tops off of the leeks as well as the hairy ends, leaving only the pale green and white parts. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise and gently wash out any grit between the layers, without completely unraveling the leeks. Pat the leeks dry and season them with 2 tbsp olive oil and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Pat the chilled chicken dry with paper towels and lightly coat with olive oil. Take the hot skillet out of the oven and drizzle in a good glug of olive oil. Place the chicken in the centre of the skillet and stuff the leeks around it (but not underneath). Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh or breast reads ~ 165 degrees (as the chicken will continue to cook during the resting period). During the last 10-15 minutes of roasting, I like to turn the oven up to 450 degrees F to really crisp up the skin as much as possible. Transfer the chicken to a large (preferably wooden) cutting board to cool and rest for 20-40 minutes. Do not be tempted to start carving before the chicken has rested at least 20 minutes. Place the leeks in a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm (or place back in the now-turned-off oven)
While the chicken rests, use the drippings in the skillet to make a quick pan sauce. Set the skillet over medium heat and pour in the white wine. Bring the mixture to a vigourous simmer, scraping up all the glorious bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the heavy cream. Whisk until smooth. Taste and season if necessary (though if you seasoned your bird properly this sauce should already be quite salty).
I would love to talk you through the steps of carving up a chicken, but really, this is one area where I will concede that images top words. See this great video for step-by-step instructions and make sure you have a very sharp knife and maybe a buddy around for moral support. Once the chicken has been carved, place the pieces on a serving platter surrounded by the caramelized leeks and a small pitcher of the pan juices. The pan sauce will have a punchy, salty flavour and should be used sparingly –not like gravy. Make sure your first bite has a bit of everything on it (chicken, crispy skin, leek, and pan sauce). Let that warm feeling spread from your belly all the way to the tips of your fingers.