At the butcher, the elderly retraité (retired guy with nothing better to do) in line before me teased the man with the large knife behind the counter by extolling the virtues of eating a filet mignon with ketchup and a coca light. While I’ve always found it dangerous to tease the man preparing my food, it gave me enough time to look over his selection of poultry and make my decision.
A nice coquelet. Often known as “spring chicken,” it is slaughtered withing 28 days of hatching and therefore never grows beyond 750 grams, or about 1 ½ lbs. My little chicken was 550 grams, enough for what I had in mind.
Every now and then I like to practice my roasting skills. Test myself to see if I can cook a whole bird to golden, moist perfection. We all know it’s not as easy as it sounds. Minute timing, watching, basting – a dry, flavorless turkey or chicken is a thing of tragedy. Coquelet was a perfect choice to practice once again, because though I’m a woman of large culinary appetites, I can’t eat a full chicken on my own.
While dreaming of my roast, I mulled over sauces. I wanted to do it right. Something traditional perhaps? I perused through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, where a wonderful collection of old-school French sauces tempted me. But all thoughts went out the window when I saw that Healthful Pursuit had beaten me to the winter vegetable – roast chicken game and cooked hers with an intriguing Dijon maple sauce.
I couldn’t resist.
Some Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, and shallots.
Perfect winter vegetable side for a frosty-day roast.
Since I didn’t have any basic “basting sauce” I poured the maple-mustard sauce over my coquelet and hoped it would seal the juices in.
Being a young bird the meat is incredibly tender, and as it’s small it roasts quickly, just about 40-50 minutes in the oven right along with the vegetables and the sauce.
Soft, tangy Brussels sprouts pair well with the sweet, nutty squash. And as we all know, chicken goes with just about everything. The sauce was excellent. Though the original recipe called for white wine vinegar, I had a small bottle of a dry Sauvignon Blanc already open that did the trick nicely. The flavors were a perfect blend of sharp Dijon mustard and sweet maple syrup with a creamy, unctuous texture that coated the chicken and the vegetables.
I have to say that the only thing that was missing was another person to share my meal with, because this is the kind of dish best served in company.
Any kind of winter vegetables would do here: carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, maybe even some roasted beets, or turnips. Spring green beans would also be excellent when in season. And of course, you don’t need to roast a whole chicken, or even a coquelet. A few slices of breast or leg will work.
I’m including my recipe along with Healthful Pursuit’s sauce, but feel free to experiment:
- 8 Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed
- ½ small butternut squash, seeded and peeled
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 coquelet or small spring chicken
- olive oil
- For the sauce:
- ¼ cup of Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar*
- Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C.
- Place the prepared vegetables in large casserole dish with a little bit of salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Make sure there are no fussy, forgotten organs in your chicken, then rub the entire bird with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Place on top of the vegetables and let everything cook for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare your sauce but mixing the mustard, syrup, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Remove the casserole from the oven and pour the sauce over chicken and let it drip down around the vegetables. Put the casserole back in the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F/180°C. Let roast for another 25-35 minutes until the chicken is cooked all the way through and has reached an internal temperature of 165°.