Roast Chicken with Fennel & Spring Onions

This recipe is from Andrea Reusing's book "Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes", which features food from many of Hana's farmer-friends back in North Carolina. This cookbook, as well as Reusing's "Lantern" restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC, is highly recommended. Perhaps in a few weeks you will all be eager to read the anecdote she shares about overcoming her boredom with greens...but for now, this recipe:

Roast Chicken with Fennel & Spring Onions

Serves 4

1 (3.5-4#) chicken

4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 t expeller-pressed vegetable oil (or olive oil)

2 fennel bulbs with green fronds

8 spring onions with green tops

6 garlic cloves smashed and peeled

1/2 c dry white wine

1/2 c chicken stock (from neck)

Allow the chicken to come to room temperature, up to an hour.  Preheat oven to 425F. Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry.  Remove wing tips and reserve with neck for broth.  Coat chicken with 1 T butter and season it inside and out with generous amount of salt and pepper.  

Coat a large, heavy roasting pan with 1 teaspoon of the oil.  Trim the fennel and spring onion bulbs, reserving the fronds and tops, respectively.  Cut each fennel bulb and the onions in half lengthwise, and then into half-inch wide slices lengthwise.  In a medium bowl, toss the fennel, onion bulbs, and garlic scapes with a quarter teaspoon of salt and the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to coat.  Arrange the vegetables in the roasting pan, put the chicken on top, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.  

In the meantime, make a light chicken broth and prepare the green onion tops and fennel fronds. Simmer the neck and wing tips of the chicken in cold water with some aromatics like a slice or two of carrots and onions, a garlic clove, and a few peppercorns for about 45 minutes.  Slice the green onion tops into thin rings and tear the fennel fronds into small sprigs to make about 3 cups total; set aside. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 375F and give the vegetables a stir so they color evenly. Roast for another 20-25 minutes until the chicken is done -- the skin will be crisp and deep golden brown, the juices will have just a tinge of light pink, and an instant read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh will read 165F. 

Remove the pan from the oven.  Transfer the chicken to a platter, tent it with foil, and let it rest for ten minutes.  In the meantime, if the fennel and onions are not yet golden brown, return them to the oven to roast for another few minutes on their own, until they are well caramelized. 

Put the roasting pan over medium-high heat and add the wine and stock, scraping the bottom of the pan and stirring the vegetables.  Simmer for about 3 minutes, until the sauce has a slightly syrupy consistency.  Add the fennel fronds and green onion tops.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 3T butter, swirling it in until it dissolves and thickens the sauce. 

Carve the chicken into serving pieces, adding any juices that accumulate on the carving board to the sauce.  With a slotted spoon, spread the vegetables on a warm serving platter.  Arrange the chicken over the vegetables and spoon the sauce on top.