Cast Iron Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables

 
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If there’s an ultimate comfort food, it’s got to be roast chicken. And in case you were thinking this classic couldn’t get any more comforting, just wait. Add some wintery veggies, bacon, plenty of butter, toss it in a skillet, and we could live on this all season! A variation of Bon Appétit’s cast iron roast chicken, this fuss-free recipe is festive enough for a gathering but simple enough for a weeknight in. — Olivia Cooper, Founder of A Dash of This & Food Contributor

Ingredients:

A 3 1/2–4-pound whole chicken
Salt (I used unrefined sea salt.)
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 fennel bulb, cut into wedges
1 winter squash, such as acorn, cut into 1½-inch-thick wedges or rounds
1 1/2 ounces bacon (or pancetta), chopped into ¼-inch pieces
1 shallot, peeled and cut in half
1/2 orange, cut into wedges
A handful of fresh thyme
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with salt, inside and out. Let sit 1 hour to allow the salt to penetrate, or chill, uncovered, up to 1 day ahead.

Place a rack in upper third of oven and set a 12" cast-iron skillet or 3-qt. enameled cast-iron baking dish on rack. Preheat the oven to 425°.

Reserving a few sprigs for the chicken, strip the thyme leaves from some of the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Toss the onions, fennel, squash, bacon, and olive oil in a large bowl to coat. Season with salt, pepper and thyme leaves. 

Once oven reaches temperature, pat the chicken dry thoroughly with paper towels and smother with the softened butter. Liberally salt and pepper the inside and outside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the leftover sprigs of thyme, both orange wedges, and the shallot. Place chicken in the center of skillet and arrange squash mixture around. Roast until the vegetables are golden brown and tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breasts registers 155°, 50–60 minutes (temperature will climb to 165° as chicken rests). Let chicken rest in skillet at least 20 minutes and up to 45 minutes before serving.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board and carve. Serve with vegetables.