Roast Chicken with Fennel and Olives

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Olives 5

Roast chickens are totally misunderstood. Often thought to be difficult, or unapproachable, I find them one of the easiest meals to prepare. In fact, they’re often a go-to for me when I don’t actually feel like cooking, but want a from-scratch comforting meal. Plus, it’s no coincidence that magazine after magazine noted, if there’s one dish in the entire world that could generate a proposal out of someone, it’s a perfectly roasted chicken.

Here’s why a roast chicken needs to be in your repertoire:
1. No cooking prior to roasting
2. The oven does all the work
3. Veggies/starch are cooked in the same pan, at the same time
4. Crispy Skin
5. Ummm Crispy Skin

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Olives 4

It’s quite the dispute on how to achieve the perfect roast chicken, after all, every cook has their own fool-proof method…. Only salt and pepper. Only butter. Only olive oil. Butter and Olive Oil. Stuff the cavity with aromatics. An even high temperature. High temp, low temp. Every method IS THE ABSOLUTE ONLY WAY TO ROAST A CHICKEN.

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Olives 3

I’m going to let you in on a little secret….there is no “right” method.

My preferred – not necessarily right –method is smothering a dry bird with softened butter and a liberal dousing of salt. I then stuff the cavity with onion, garlic and lemon to infuse as much flavor into the meat as possible. Roasting at a super high temperature for a short period of time ensures a super crispy skin and then the temperature is reduced to keep the chicken moist and tender. Simple as can be.

This time, instead of smothering the skin with plain butter, I switched things up a bit by mixing the softened butter with some lemon zest and fennel fronds. The bottom of the pan is lined with russet potato wedges, sliced fennel and Spanish olives, completing the meal.

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Olives 2

Comfort food at its finest…

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Olives

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Olives (Printable recipe will be posted later)
1-5 lb roast chicken
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon fennel fronds
1 lemon + 1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 large potatoes cut into wedges
½ cup Spanish olives
Fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 onion
3 garlic cloves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine butter, fennel fronds and zest. Smother over chicken and under skin.
Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Place potato in the bottom of roasting pan. Place chicken on roasting rack and cook for 25 minutes.
Reduce the heat and add sliced fennel and olives to potatoes.
Cook another 50-60 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Tossing the vegetables a couple time throughout the process. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees and any juices from the chicken should be clear.
Let rest for 15 minutes before craving.

Whipped Ricotta and Butternut Squash Crostini with Kale and Italian Sausage

Whipped Ricotta and Butternut Squash Crostini with Sauteed Kale and Italian Sausage 7

Welp. It’s Monday. Again.

At the moment I’m slowly trying to coerce myself to get up out of bed, but I’m glued to the sheets. My doggie is curled up beside me and is one of those positions that make you wonder, how can he be comfortable? But he is. And so am I.

It also doesn’t help that I had quite the weekend. I mentioned it briefly on Friday, but for the past three days I’ve been with some girlfriends of mine on our annual trip back to our college town, reliving our glory days. And while it was glorious, each visit gets harder and harder on my body. It’s one of those moments you realize just how removed from college life you are. I cannot wake up at 6am and start drinking bloody marys and expect to make it past 5pm anymore. Yup, this girl was in bed on Saturday by 5pm – and I’ve got no shame whatsoever.

Whipped Ricotta and Butternut Squash Crostini with Sauteed Kale and Italian Sausage 2

The upside of going to sleep at 5pm? Sunday morning I woke up feeling like I wasn’t going to die, and was completely ready to take on the day. Of course that was after a Sonic breakfast burrito, ice-cold sprite and two hour drive back to Kansas City. (Do NOT look up the nutritional value of those burritos if you ever have one, it’s horrendous.)

In my life taking on the day means, I’m ready to cook! And cook I did.

Whipped Ricotta and Butternut Squash Crostini with Sauteed Kale and Italian Sausage

Kevin was also in a similar situation as myself, he spent all weekend in New Orleans for a bachelor party, so I knew he’d want something good-for-the-soul and not overly indulgent to eat, and honestly, after my food-filled weekend, I needed it too.

Dinner was a fennel roasted chicken (to come later!), but our meal started with the pictured whipped ricotta and butternut squash crostini.

Swoon!

Whipped Ricotta and Butternut Squash Crostini with Sauteed Kale and Italian Sausage 6

As I said before, now that it’s officially fall, I’m diving head first into all things pumpkin, butternut squash, apple and slow-cooked. I’ve been completely head over heels for the combination of kale with my favorite turkey Italian sausage lately, so I wanted to incorporate those two ingredients in my meals plans for last night. I spotted a butternut squash, some whole milk and an old baguette in my fridge and these crostini were born.

Whole milk was magically transformed into homemade ricotta cheese, I’m not recommending you do this step unless you happen to have a giant vat of whole milk or cream sitting in your fridge, in this particular recipe, store-bought is just fine. But in my, case, I figured, why not? I have whole milk, some time and it could not be easier (and cheaper!) to make.

Whipped Ricotta and Butternut Squash Crostini with Sauteed Kale and Italian Sausage 5

Next, butternut squash is cubed and tossed with a little bit of olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, cumin and salt and then popped into the oven to roast. At the same time, I browned up a little bit of turkey Italian sausage and threw a few big handfuls of chopped kale over the top, and let it wilt.

After the squash is softened, it’s whipped up in the blender with the ricotta, seasoned with a little bit of salt and pepper and ready to be spread onto toasted crostini. They’re topped off with a heaping portion of the browned turkey sausage and kale.

Whipped Ricotta and Butternut Squash Crostini with Sauteed Kale and Italian Sausage 4
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