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Roasted Chicken with Warm Winter Greens Salad

In this recipe for simple, satisfying winter fare, sweet yet tangy dried cranberries dot a salad of pleasantly bitter greens. They add bright bursts of flavor that offset the buttery toasted walnuts in the salad, the warm vinaigrette made with pan drippings and the richness of the golden brown roasted bird.

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken, about 4 lb.   
  • 2 slices crusty country bread, each 3/4 inch thick, cut into cubes 
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing 
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste 
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste 
  • 1 shallot, minced 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth or stock  
  • 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar  
  • 2 Tbs. walnut oil  
  • 6 to 8 cups mixed winter salad greens, such as frisée, radicchio, escarole and chicory 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries 

Directions:

Pull off the fat from around the chicken’s cavity and coarsely chop the fat. In a small saucepan over low heat, cook the fat until rendered, about 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve; you should have about 1 1/2 Tbs. Let the chicken and fat stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Place the bread cubes in a bowl, drizzle with the 2 Tbs. olive oil and stir to coat. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 425°F. Place a V-shaped roasting rack in a flameproof roasting pan and lightly oil the rack.

Rub the rendered fat on the outside of the chicken. Season the chicken inside and out with the 2 tsp. salt and the 1/2 tsp. pepper. Place the chicken on its side on the roasting rack and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken on its other side and roast for 20 minutes more. Turn the chicken on its back and roast until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 160°F, about 40 minutes. Tilt the chicken so any juice in the cavity flows into the pan. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the vinaigrette, pour off all but 2 Tbs. of the drippings from the roasting pan. Place the pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, vinegar and walnut oil. Bring to a boil over high heat, scraping up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Remove from the heat. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, toasted bread cubes, toasted walnuts and dried cranberries. Add the warm vinaigrette and toss to coat. Divide the salad among warmed dinner plates. Cut the chicken into quarters and place a chicken quarter on top of each salad. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).