Disclaimer: I still like the Zuni chicken and bread salad much better, but I thought this was quite good and a nice autumnal variation on the standard. Must mix things up now and then!
Been wanting to make this since I saw a recipe on Leite's Culinaria (see link). Had a bunch of sage I wanted to use up and few sweet potatoes, so this was a good time as any. Recipe calls for two birds, but I only used one 4-pounder. Result is pictured below.
By now you know that I never follow a recipe exactly, so my changes:
1. Pre-seasoned bird night before using Zuni method. 3/4 tsp. kosher salt per pound meat...1 TB for this bird. Pepper. Stuffed sage under skin at this time. *Key to a deeply-flavorful bird*
2. Didn't bother to truss before roasting.
3. Used a little less brown sugar since I didn't want it to be too sweet.
4. Tossed in some quartered apples.
5. Used 1/2 c. white wine and 1/2 c. water instead of 1 c. water called for.
6. Turned chicken midway to brown underside and then returned to breast side up during last 5 min.
As you might imagine, this smelled fabulous while roasting. Really got me in the Thanksgiving mood! I lamented how the skin wasn't ultra-crispy and greaseless like Zuni's, but this method rendered a more buttery and creamy flesh. Moist and delicious. Sage was wonderful and mellowed w/ roasting. Not overpowering at all.
Sweet potatoes were great, as expected. Onions were sweet too but added some astringency. I liked the tart element the apples imparted to the pan juices, but they turned very mushy by the end. So I removed them and pureed into a smooth applesauce consistency using a food mill and then mixed in the pan juices to make a "gravy." Husband and I agreed that this sauce balanced the dish nicely.
Next time: I might roast at the initial 475F for longer so the bottom can be browned well too. Don't use apples but either add a little lemon juice or cider (or sherry) vinegar w/ the wine/water mix for acidity. Might throw some garlic cloves into cavity too. Any other ideas appreciated.
There isn't much as gratifying as a roast chicken for supper in the home on a cool fall night. Enjoy!