This Is Some Spring Chicken

Roasting a chicken never gets old. Simply seasoned with salt or vamped up with truffles stuffed into its gut, as long as the skin is crisp and the meat juicy, roast chicken is something I’ll always devour right down to the bones.

This roast chicken falls in the vast middle ground between simply salted and truffle stuffed. The recipe is not at all complicated, and doesn’t call for any rarefied ingredients. But the rhubarb glaze makes it special: pink-hued, lightly spiced, tangy-sweet and perfect for spring.

Its pinkness comes from lipstick-red rhubarb, the kind so saturated that it retains a rosy blush even when roasted. Not that the color is at all integral to the flavor of the dish — pinkish is not tastier than greenish. But it is prettier.

Be they green or red, plump, taut rhubarb stalks, with minimal brown spots stippling the skin, are what you’re looking for; this signifies freshness. The fresher they are, the snappier-tasting, too.

Sliced, spiced with coriander and ginger, and sprinkled with sugar, the rhubarb is roasted in the same oven as the chicken, but in a separate dish. As it cooks, it turns soft and syrupy, but never cloying, thanks to its own brisk acidity and some lemons. Tart and just sweet enough, some of the rhubarb mixture is brushed over the roasting chicken, where the sugar helps bronze its skin. Then the rest collapses into a chutney-like condiment to serve alongside the bird.

There’s one more component to this dish, and that’s the crisp red onions. Unlike the rhubarb, which maintains some distance from the chicken by roasting in its own pan, the onions are scattered right next to the bird so they can absorb all of its gingery, garlicky rendering fat. The fat is what makes the onions crunchy. Just make sure not to slice them too thinly. You want them to crisp and brown as they roast, not blacken and burn. Assuming you’re not going to fish out a ruler to make dinner (I never do), err on the generous side of a quarter-inch thick when you’re eyeballing it.

Then for serving, I like to plop chicken, onions and rhubarb into a bowl of buttery polenta to catch all the juices. But a plate and a ripped-up baguette will work just as well.

Recipe: Roasted Chicken With Lemon-Glazed Rhubarb

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Melissa Clark has been a columnist for the Food section since 2007. She reports on food trends, creates recipes and appears in cooking videos linked to her column, A Good Appetite. She has also written dozens of cookbooks. @MelissaClark Facebook

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