Just in time for the weekend I have an incredibly delicious entrée, Roast Chicken with Bread and Arugula Salad recipe that I know your family and guests will love! It does take a little prep work but you can do all of that up to 48 hours in advance and it is so worth it. Best of all, it’s a MOGT! What is a MOGT you say? Well as you probably know, a BOGO is “Buy One, Get One Free. “ Actually, I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know this for the longest time, and was completely clueless whenever I saw it in an advertisement. But, back to my MOGT, it stands for “Make One, Get Two Free” Yes, that’s right, you can use the leftovers, assuming there are leftovers to make totally scrumptious chicken salad, and the best homemade chicken stock you have ever had. I’ll be posting recipes for both in the next few days, but now back to Roast Chicken with Bread and Arugula Salad.
This rustic recipe was adapted from Ina Garten’s Make it Ahead Cookbook and was originally inspired by Zuni Café in San Francisco and Standard Grill in New York City. This simple dish is an entire meal on one platter. It’s easy and so good! The key to possibly the best roast chicken you have ever had is salting it in advance. Dry brining not only improves the flavor of the chicken, it also keeps it tender and best of all juicy. And, speaking of juicy, thick slices of rustic bread are placed under the chicken while it roasts and they absorb all of the delicious pan juices. When the chicken is done, the delicious toasted bread slices are cut up into croutons and the taste is magical! The only problem you will have is trying to keep from eating them all before serving this dish.
To get started, gather your ingredients which are: a 3-4 pound whole chicken, fresh thyme, garlic cloves, a lemon, salt and pepper, 3-4 slices of thick rustic bread, olive oil, Champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, scallions, dried cranberries, 6-8 ounces baby arugula and toasted pine nuts. You will also need a heavy well-seasoned cast-iron skillet.
Place the chicken in a baking dish. To dry brine the chicken, first using your fingers or the handle of a wooden spoon gently loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs. Be careful not to break the skin. Carefully slide the sprigs of thyme and garlic cloves under the skin. Put the cut up lemon in the cavity along with a few more sprigs of thyme. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
When ready to roast the chicken, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. (Make sure your oven is very clean, or you will end up with a kitchen filled with smoke.) Place 3-4 pieces of ¾ to 1-inch thick rustic bread in the bottom of your cast iron pan. (I bought a whole loaf of White Mountain Bread from Publix and sliced it myself. A loaf of french bread would work well too. Regular bread is too thin and will not hold up in this recipe.)
Brush the chicken with olive oil and place it on top of the bread slices, breast side up.
Roast uncovered for 30 minutes, then carefully remove from the oven and turn the chicken over. Do not turn over the bread slices. Roast the chicken uncovered for another 15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the breast. (The bottom of the bread will probably look burned and be soaked with pan juices. This is exactly what you want.)
When the chicken is done, remove the skillet from the oven and cover tightly with foil. Allow the chicken to rest for a full 30 minutes.
While the chicken rests, make the Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette for the Arugula Salad. Simply add vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper, minced garlic, finely minced scallions and olive oil to a mason jar. Cover and shake well. Set aside.
Place the roasted chicken on a cutting board and carve the chicken into pieces and cut the bread into cubes.
Place the Arugula in a large bowl, add the desired amount of vinaigrette and toss well.
When you are ready to serve this dish, pour the dressed Arugula leaves in a large, shallow serving platter. Top with chicken pieces, then the toasted bread croutons. Sprinkle dried cranberries and toasted pine nuts on the top. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!
**To make ahead, season and dry brine the chicken as directed above. Up to a day ahead, prepare the vinaigrette and refrigerate.
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