If there’s one meal I can advocate for you to make while you’re Whole30-ing, it’s this roast chicken and potatoes with wilted spinach. You need this roast chicken and potatoes because your stomach will be busy emptying itself of the carbs, sugar, dairy and alcohol you’ve been consuming your whole life, and you’ll need to fill it with something that will stick to your bones. I’m going to insist that you at least try to roast a whole chicken even if you’re not on Whole30, because it’s easy, provides a lot of meat for more than one meal, and is the way chicken is meant to be eaten.
For those of you just tuning in, for the last three and a half weeks I’ve been on a diet called Whole30. It’s a temporarily restrictive diet that requires you to ban alcohol, dairy, legumes, grains and refined sugar from your diet for 30 whole days. I decided to undertake a Whole30 for a few reasons, but mainly because since having kids I’ve been sluggish and tired pretty much all of the time. I’d previously attributed this problem to sleep deprivation because one or both of our kids used to wake up at least once a night and also run me ragged during the day (while I tried to balance work, life and blogging all at the same time). Even though I still have the same life obligations, the kids rarely keep me up anymore (KNOCK ON SO MUCH WOOD), so I knew I had to make a change in my diet and exercise to try to increase my energy levels. Enter Whole30.
The hubby is doing Whole30 with me along with our au pair, who lives with us and cares for our kids (have I mentioned her before here? She’s awesome). We’re all doing great in the final stretches, due in no small part to my regular bird roasting. I pretty much always roast my chicken using Thomas Keller’s foolproof recipe. Like I mentioned yesterday, a couple of weeks ago I roasted one of these bad boys and threw it in a bag to take with us to my kids’ school carnival, which underscores the point that not only is this chicken easy to make, but it travels well. The chicken skin isn’t as crispy as it is when it first comes out of the oven, but chicken roasted this way is unassailably juicy, full of pure chicken flavor and just perfect in every way.
The main modification that I’ve made to Thomas Keller’s original recipe is to add my favorite crunchy roasted potatoes from Cup of Jo before sliding the roasting pan into the oven to cook for just over an hour. Yes, you can have white potatoes on Whole30, although it’s not recommended that you eat them all of the time or anything. The white potato exception saved me from a dark, gloomy ledge in the early days of Whole30 even though we’re eating fewer and fewer of them in the latter half of our 30 days. About ten minutes before serving, I throw heapfuls of baby spinach into the pot, mixing gently to coat the spinach in glorious chicken fat. When the bird emerges from the hot oven, sizzling and triumphant, all that’s left to do is to present it to the dinner table with a flourish. I promise you this dish will earn you applause and cheers.
If it doesn’t, then I think your friends and family aren’t being supportive enough. You made them a whole chicken! Make them clap for you! If you don’t, I will.
- 1 3-4 pound whole chicken
- kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper
- 1.5 lbs potatoes, rinsed and halved
- ⅓ cup ghee
- 3 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried on paper towels
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour the ghee into a large roasting pan big enough to fit the chicken and potatoes and let the ghee melt for about 5 minutes until the ghee is thoroughly melted and shimmering.
- Put the potatoes in a large stock pot with a tight-fitting lid and cover it with at least 1" water. Salt the water and bring the potatoes to a boil, cooking 5-7 minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pot. Cover the pot with the lid and shake the pot vigorously to loosen up the skins and make the potatoes slightly fuzzy around the edges (these edges will become crisp and wonderful during roasting). Set the potatoes aside.
- Rinse the chicken under cold water, inside and out. Place the chicken on a large, clean cutting board and pat dry with paper towels, inside and out.
- Salt and pepper the cavity inside the chicken, then truss the bird (i.e., tuck the wings behind the back of the chicken and tie the legs together with kitchen twine, running a long piece of twine up and behind the back of the chicken and tying it together around the neck bone).
- Place the trussed chicken inside the large roasting pan. Add the potatoes slowly so that the potatoes surround the chicken. (Note: the chicken and the potatoes will sizzle in the ghee when you first put them in there, so do this step carefully, using tongs if necessary).
- Rain kosher salt over the bird and the potatoes, making sure to get a nice, even sprinkling of salt over the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the oven and roast for approximately 50 minutes. At 50 minutes, pull the chicken from the oven and toss the potatoes a bit, removing any potatoes that look a little too brown.
- Add spinach around chicken and toss gently to coat the spinach with the chicken juices and fat that has accumulated in the roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven and roast another 10-20 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken measures 165 degrees when a thermometer is inserted in the thickest part.
- Remove the chicken and potatoes from the oven and let the chicken rest for approximately 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve, reserving leftover chicken for sandwiches, wraps or salads the next day.