Truffle Salt Roast Chicken with Lentils and Squash
“My favorite bit about this recipe is that you have the entire meal covered: succulent, salty, crispy-skinned roast chicken—(I know plenty of culinary types will scoff at my love of truffle salt, but it delivers $500 of truffle flavor for the price of a few lattes, and I think it’s well worth it. And don’t skip my special tip on how to get juicy breast meat and perfectly cooked thighs, too!)—plus, you get a healthy dose of lentils, squash, and scallions that soak up tons of flavor cooking at the bottom of the chicken-roasting dish. It’s the kind of meal that brings everyone to the table.”
for the roast chicken:
extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse truffle salt (I knowwww . . . but it’s so good!! Do it!!)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves plus 6 fresh thyme sprigs
freshly cracked black pepper
2 large garlic cloves, peeled but whole
1 whole chicken (3 ½ to 4 pounds)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 onion, quartered
for the lentils and squash:
1 cup Puy lentils (French green lentils)
2 pounds kabocha squash, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges (butternut squash or pumpkin works great, too)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
¼ cup finely chopped fresh scallions
½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
1. To roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 425°F. Place a roasting rack on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly coat the rack with olive oil.
2. In a small bowl, mix the truffle salt, chopped thyme, and pepper to taste. Use a Microplane-style rasp (or a garlic press) to grate the garlic into the salt, then use your fingers to rub it into the salt.
3. Set the chicken on a cutting board and use your fingers to gently separate the skin over the breast from the breast meat, creating a pocket. Don’t be afraid to get in there, but take care not to tear the skin. Grab about half the herbed truffle salt and massage it into the meat and under the skin. Repeat at the thigh joint, using your fingers to separate the meat from the skin and rubbing half the remaining salt in the pocket. Brush the chicken all over with the melted butter, then rub the last bit of salt over the skin. Stuff the cavity with the onion quarters.
4. Tuck the wings behind the backbone and tie the ends of the drumsticks together using kitchen twine. Turn the chicken breast side down and set it on the roasting rack. Add 1/3 cup water to the bottom of the pan—this will help to steam the chicken and keep it moist as it cooks—and roast for 40 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, to start the lentils, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook until they are al dente, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
6. Transfer the rack with the chicken on it to a cutting board. Add the squash to the baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Replace the chicken (on the rack) over the vegetables and use tongs or a long-handled wooden spoon to turn the chicken over, breast side up. Roast the chicken and vegetables for 20 minutes.
7. Remove the pan setup from the oven and add the lentils to the bottom of the pan. Roast again until the juices run clear and the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh is about 160°F, about 40 minutes more.
8. Use tongs to transfer the chicken to a platter, and let sit for 10 minutes.
9. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, scallions, parsley, and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the vinaigrette over the lentils and squash, stirring to coat them and taste for salt and pepper and adjust if necessary. Carve the chicken, and arrange pieces on a platter. Surround the chicken with the squash and lentils and serve family style.
VARIATION: You can parboil wheat berries, brown rice, barley, or farro to stand in for the lentils if you like. Add a few cups of spinach to the lentils and squash for a warm salad-y side.