Food and Drink

Everyone can use a good, simple recipe for roasted chicken. Here’s a classic.

Who doesn’t love a good roast chicken — a simple, classic dinner to instantly lift the spirits? All you need are some root vegetables and well-seasoned pan juices, along with a quality bird that hasn’t been mass-produced. Enter Don Dyer of Polaris Farm. Twenty-seven years ago, Dyer’s chicken adventure started as a daddy-daughter project. He and his family moved to Alaska in 2004, and then to Palmer “specifically to have chickens and a farm,” Dyer says. The property came with a greenhouse, and he grew starts for the Donatello family-run Alaska Mill and Feed. In 2010, Margaret Donatello, who had just come back from eating at a farm-to-table restaurant in Brooklyn, wondered if anyone in Alaska was raising chickens. She encouraged Dyer to grow meat birds.

“She wanted 50 chickens for her and friends in the community,” Dyer says, “and it just grew from there.”

When Donatello first tasted the chickens, she knew it was something very special. “They’re beautifully cleaned, flash-frozen, and a delight to bring to the table,” she says.

This winter, Dyer is offering weekly deliveries to Anchorage of his Palmer chickens. The eggs are available at Natural Pantry in Anchorage and through the Arctic Harvest CSA. Orders can be made online at polarisfarm.com for 4-, 5- or 6-pound chickens.

As to roasting, Don likes to bone out the chicken or spatchcock it by removing the backbone, before seasoning and rubbing with olive oil and roasting in the oven at 300 degrees for up to three hours.

“It’s fun to play around with flavors,” he says. “I like Korean style with gochujang in the mix, or sometimes I’ll rub with Indian curry or garam masala … or a Mexican version with cumin and red chile. And we are supplying a base product that never dries out — we don’t inject and plump up the meat like most mass-produced chicken, so there’s no need to brine our birds. Just season with whatever you’re feeling and go from there.”

Basic roast chicken

1 (4- to 5-pound) whole, free-range chicken

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened or melted

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 lemon, cut into quarters

2 to 3 pounds vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes and turnips, trimmed and cut into equal-sized pieces

5 to 7 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed lightly

For optional gravy: 1 tablespoon flour plus 1 to 2 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Rinse chicken inside and out; pat dry. Spatchcock the chicken: Place chicken breast-side down on a cutting board or clean kitchen counter and cut, using kitchen shears along one side of the backbone. Cut down the other side and remove backbone (save for stock). Turn chicken over, breast side up, and press down firmly onto the breast bone using heel of your hand until it cracks, then push down to flatten the bird.

Cut vegetables into equal-sized pieces. Add vegetables, garlic and lemon quarters to bottom of a large roasting pan or skillet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil; toss to combine. Place bird skin-side-up over vegetables. Season all over with salt and pepper. Brush with melted butter and season again lightly with salt and pepper.

Roast in the oven at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and until juices near the thigh run clear and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh — without touching the bone — reaches 160-165 degrees. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, turn heat up to 375 degrees for another 15-20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and remove chicken to a cutting board lightly tented with foil. Let chicken rest 15 minutes before serving.

To make gravy: Place pan on stove top and turn heat to medium-low; stir one tablespoon flour into the pan juices (add one tablespoon butter if not enough pan juices). Turn up heat and stir in one cup chicken broth until thickened, adding more as needed; taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Serve with chicken and vegetables.

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