When Helen Rosner and Smitten Kitchen tell you to make a roasted chicken on a bed of schmaltzy cabbage (ahem—brussels sprouts in my case for reasons that will become apparent), you don’t ask questions. You just do.
Rosner is a James Beard-award winning food writer (currently the New Yorker’s roving food correspondent) who I once shared the stage with on a panel about body positivity. And though I’ve never met Deb of Smitten Kitchen, she has never, ever steered me wrong food-wise. So when Rosner shared on Instagram that she had roasted a chicken over thickly sliced slabs of cabbage Tetris-ed together and Deb followed that up with an official SK version of that recipe, I immediately updated my next grocery order to include a whole chicken and a whole cabbage. Even though cabbage generally isn’t one of my favorite things to eat.
Only, my grocery store was out of cabbage so my delivery shopper (helpfully) swapped in a bag of brussels sprouts. Fair enough. Brussels sprouts and cabbage are part of the same family. And I love brussels sprouts about a thousand times more than I like cabbage. It was basically fate. So I made a few small adjustments and proceeded with the sprouts.
In addition to swapping in the brussels sprouts, I used a technique from Salt Fat Acid Heat to ensure the chicken browned evenly and stuffed the chicken with lemons, shallots, and rosemary to add some extra flavor to the schmaltzy drippings. The brussels sprouts cook in those drippings. It only makes sense to make them as flavorful as possible.
The brussels sprouts around the edge of the pan develop crackling dark brown edges while those in the center soften, soaking up as much of those buttery juices as possible. And while the skeptic in me worried about mushy textures, my fears were completely unfounded; there were no brussels sprouts left at the end of the night. They were rich, buttery, crunchy, caramelized, and so so so so so tasty.
The chicken is good, don’t get me wrong, but those schmaltzy brussels sprouts are the true star of the show.
- I used my Lodge 10.25″ cast iron for this but any oven-safe pan will work.
- I used a 4 pound chicken because that’s what my Instacart shopper picked up, but if you have a smaller one just reduce the cooking time by about 10-15 minutes. The chicken is done when an instant read thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the breast reads 155F or 165F on the thigh (though I let ours cook an additional 10 minutes after it reached that point because it was still looking a little pale).
- When the chicken is done, let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing to lock the juices in and prevent dryness.
- Reserve the roasted chicken bones in a large bag in your freezer and use them to make chicken stock.
- I only had 1 lb of brussels sprouts on hand when I made minen but I’ve suggested 2 lbs in the recipe because they shrink so much during cooking. If you’re using a smaller bird or smaller pan, you may not need the full 2 lbs of brussels sprouts.
Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Brussels Sprouts
- 4 lb whole chicken
- 2 lbs brussels sprouts
- 1/2 TBSP seasoned salt
- 5 TBSP butter (unsalted)
- 1 TBSP diamond crystal kosher salt (1/2 TBSP if using a different brand)
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 2 shallots, halved (or 1 medium onion)
- 2 springs rosemary (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 450°F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and remove any innards or giblets if included. Brush the outside of the chicken with 1 TBSP melted butter, then season the whole chicken generously with salt and pepper, making sure to get under the skin too. Set aside.
- Brush the bottom of an oven safe pan (I used my 10.25" cast iron) with a thin layer of oil to prevent sticking. Trim the stem end off all the brussels sprouts and arrange them open-end facing up in the pan as close together as possible. Cut the largest ones in half if needed to create a flat, even surface about 1/2" high for the chicken to rest on. Season the surface of the brussels sprouts generously with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken on top of the brussels sprouts with its legs facing away from the handle of the pan and tie its legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wings behind its back so they don't pop out.
- For even browning, arrange the chicken in the oven so that the pan is in the back right corner with the legs pointing toward the corner and the handle of the pan points toward the center of the oven. You're going to adjust the pan's placement in the oven twice during cooking. Each time you move the pan in the oven, spoon some of the remaining butter over the chicken and brussels sprouts. After 20 minutes, move the pan so that it's in the back left corner of the oven, with the chicken's legs pointing into that corner. Cook an additional 20 minutes. Move the chicken to the middle of the oven for the final 20-30 minutes, tenting it with foil or dropping the temperature to 425°F if the chicken is browning too much.
- The chicken is done when a thermometer inserted at the deepest part of the breast reads 155°F and at 165°F at the deepest part of the thigh. Remove the bird from the pan to a board to rest 10-15 minutes. Stir the brussels sprouts and return them to the oven for 5 minutes.
- Carve the chicken and serve with the brussels sprouts on the side. Squeeze the juices from the lemon inside the chicken over the dish right before serving.
- Inspired by Helen Rosner and Smitten Kitchen.
- If your chicken is bigger or smaller than the one I used, simply adjust cooking times accordingly — for a 3 lb chicken, start checking for doneness after 45 minutes. For a 5 lb chicken, you may need to remove the brussels sprouts early and let the bird continue cooking for another 20 minutes.
- If you don’t have seasoned salt, regular salt under the skin is fine.