Thanksgiving is of course not celebrated here in Croatia, but our beautiful markets are perfect (and always an inspiration for me!) for stocking up on ingredients for Thursday. Last year I learned the hard way that a turkey does not fit in our tiny European oven, so I made The Best Simple Roast Chicken instead. I know turkey is an American tradition, but truth be told, we enjoyed having chicken far more! The meat is moist and flavorful, it's far quicker to roast and it's easy to pop another one in the oven during the following days of leftovers with all of the side dishes.
I'm also going to do what I did last year and make a simple stuffing to go in the pan with the chicken. All you need to do is toss cubed bread with olive oil, sea salt, dried herbs and chop the vegetables in this recipe to be tossed in alongside the bread. I like to put half inside the chicken cavity and leave the rest in the pan to retain some crunch.
If you're like us and can't fit a big turkey in your oven, or feel like switching things up this year, here's my Mom's recipe for the best roast chicken!
The Best Simple Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken for roasting
1 TBS crushed garlic + 6 garlic cloves, peeled
fine sea salt
ancho chile pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
If there are giblets inside the chicken, remove them. Rinse the chicken under cold water, both the outside and the cavity. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and set it in a large baking dish. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice all over the chicken. Put the lemon halves inside the cavity along with the fresh rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves. Drizzle enough olive oil over the chicken (roughly 3 tablespoons) that you can rub it in to the entire bird with your fingers. Rub in the crushed garlic and cover the chicken with the sea salt, pepper, oregano and paprika, about 1/2 teaspoon of each up to a teaspoon, depending on your taste.
Roast for about an hour, depending on the size of the chicken, or until clear juices run out. Halfway through baking, spoon the juices on the bottom of the baking dish over the chicken to keep it moist and again once it's done roasting.
Roasted Carrots & Zucchini
3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 bunch of carrots, sliced lengthwise
fine sea salt
Place the sliced vegetables in a baking dish and drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top with about 1/2 teaspoon to a teaspoon of salt. Toss the vegetables with your hands. Once the chicken has baked for about 20 minutes, add the vegetable dish to the oven and bake for the remaining 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees F. Serve the vegetables with the chicken, allowing them to soak up some of the juices.