I love bacon and I love coffee, so when I read about this roast chicken recipe last month, taken from Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon, it immediately got my attention. I usually gloss over recipes that call for highly specific, hard-to-find ingredients like this coffee rub*, but it just so happens that my in-laws live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the Zingerman’s deli that sells it. It also just so happens that my father-in-law recently came over to Ireland, so I asked him if he could pop into Zingerman’s to pick up a jar of this rub for me, with the promise that I’d make this recipe for him when he came to see us if he did. He came through and got me a jar, and I held up my end of the deal and made this dinner.
For the menu planning, I took my cue from Caroline Russock at Serious Eats, who said this recipe is like a one-dish Thanksgiving dinner, and she was right (and in fact, the rub was originally developed to season Thanksgiving turkey). The layers of bread, onions and apples underneath the chicken basically turn into stuffing — but stuffing that has been flavored with the butter and lemon juice from the chicken as well as its drippings. I kept things simple by only serving a sweet potato puree alongside the chicken and stuffing, but like Caroline says, this recipe lends itself to any of your favorite Thanksgiving or holiday side dishes. If you’re starting to think about what to serve for the holidays this year, try this coffee spice rub on the turkey or even roast potatoes for a change from your usual standbys.
*US customers can buy Zingerman’s Coffee Spice Rub online. But don’t dismiss this recipe if you can’t get the rub — this is still delicious if you simply season the chicken with salt and pepper. I did just that on a quarter of the chicken because I was making this meal to serve to my two little kids as well, and I knew the coffee rub would be too strong for them (plus it does have some zip to it). When I run out of this rub, I’ll continue to make this just with salt and pepper.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half-circles
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/8‑inch-thick slices
1 1/4 lb (570 g) tart apples (3 medium or 4 small apples), unpeeled and chopped into 1/2‑inch dice
1 cup (160 g) dried currants (or raisins)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (10 g) parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing the roasting tin
1/2 loaf leftover counrty bread, such as a good crusty white loaf, sliced 3/4‑inch
6 slices of bacon
1 roasting chicken (3 to 4 lb/1.4 to 1.8 kg), split in half and backbone removed (get your butcher to do this for you)
2 to 3 tablespoons Zingerman’s Coffee Spice Rub (or substitute coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a low heat. Add the onion and celery. Cover and sweat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until soft. Add the apple, currants, garlic, thyme, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Stir to mix. Cook, covered, until the onions and celery are translucent, about 5 to 7 more minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and set aside.
Lightly smear the bottom and sides of a 15-inch oval roasting pan (or other large ovenproof casserole dish) with butter. Arrange the bread slices to cover the entire bottom of the baking dish. (If the bread is too big to fit easily, simply cut the slices into smaller pieces so that they tile the entire bottom of the dish properly.)
Layer the onion and apple mixture on top of the bread. Place the chicken, skin side up, over the onion mixture and bread. Rub it with 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the coffee rub (or just season generously with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper). Pour the lemon juice over the chicken, then lay the bacon slices across the top of the chicken.
Place the entire dish in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. After this time, check that the bacon has crisped on top of the chicken. Once it has, pull it off the chicken and lay it directly onto the bread mixture so that the chicken can brown. Change the oven function to broil, but continue at 400°F (200°C). The chicken should be done in 15 to 20 minutes; the skin should be nicely crisped and the juices should run clear when the bird is pricked with a fork.
Remove the pan from the oven and remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut it into quarters. Draw a sharp knife through the bacon, bread, and onion mixture to break it up. Spoon some of the mixture onto each plate and place the chicken on top.
Sweet Potato Puree with Goat’s Cheese and Smoked Paprika*
Serves 6 to 8
If you’re making this for the holidays (or any day) and are pressed for time or oven space, you can just boil the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 10 to 15 minutes, though you’ll lose that extra depth of flavor you get from roasting them.
3 lb (1.4 kg) sweet potatoes
4 oz (110 g) goat’s cheese
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Prick the potatoes with a fork and place them on the foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are tender. (If using very large potatoes, make sure they are cooked all the way through.) Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them or scoop out the flesh with a spoon and transfer to a food processor. Add the goat’s cheese and smoked paprika and process until the mixture is smooth. Taste the puree to see if it needs more paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Gently reheat the puree either in a saucepan over a medium heat or in a microwave. Serve immediately.
Apple and Cranberry Oat Crumble
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson
Serves 8 to 12
This crumble is best served the day it’s made, but any leftovers can be wrapped in clingfilm and kept at room temperature for 2 or 3 days. Reheat in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until warm.
for the topping:
2 cups (200 g) rolled oats
1 1 /2 cups (180 g) flour
1 1 /3 cups packed (230 g) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, melted
for the fruit filling:
8 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4‑inch thick (3 1/2 lb/1.5 kg prepped)
2 cups (225 g) cranberries, fresh or frozen, or 1 cup (100 g) dried cranberries
1 1/3 cups (275 g) sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or custard, to serve
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter a 3‑quart (3‑liter) baking dish.
To make the topping, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt together in a bowl. Stir in the butter, then press the topping together with your hands to form small clumps. Put the topping in the freezer while you assemble the filling.
To make the filling, toss the apples, cranberries, sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Transfer the filling to the prepared pan and spread it out, pressing the fruit down into the corners.
Press the oat crumble evenly over the fruit, then bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes or so to temper the heat before serving, then top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a small dollop of whipped cream or warm custard served on the side.