A heavy Dutch oven. Piney rosemary. Sweet celery root. Salty-rich slab bacon. Crushed juniper berries. Homemade broth. Calvados. A good chicken. This is my winter roast chicken mantra. Say it to yourself a few times, make it once or twice, and it might become yours as well. Use a high-quality bird (I like to use Murray's); those with a solution added for flavor not only taste inferior, they dilute the bird’s delicious juices.
Adapted from “A Bird in the Oven and Then Some,” by Mindy Fox.
- 1 four-pound chicken
- 5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into one-inch pieces
- 1 ½ Pound celery root, peeled and cut
- Flaky salt, such as Maldon
- ½ Cup Calvados
- ½ Tablespoon water
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
- ½ Teaspoon whole juniper berries, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the middle. Pull off excess fat around the cavities of the chicken and discard, then rinse the chicken and pat dry very well, inside and out. Tie together the legs.
Heat a 5 ½-7 quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it releases some fat and begins to brown, 3-4 minutes, then add the celery root and cook, stirring, until just lightly golden, about 5 minutes more. Remove the bacon and celery root from the pot, leaving the pot on medium heat.
Season the chicken generously on all sides with salt and pepper (about 1 tablespoon coarse salt), then put the chicken, breast-side down, into the pot; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, undisturbed, until the breast-side is lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
Turn the chicken breast-side up, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for 1 minute. Add the Calvados and let it come to a boil, and then carefully ignite with a kitchen match, keeping the lid of the pot nearby to extinguish the flames, if necessary. When the flames die out, add the water to the pot. Return the bacon and celery root to the pot and sprinkle the top of the bird with the rosemary and juniper. Seal with pot with foil, then fit the lid on well.
Roast the bird in the oven for 1 hour, then remove the pot, uncover, and let the bird rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, let rest for 5 minutes, and then carve with the celery root, bacon, pan juices, and coarse salt for passing around the table.