Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Apples from Southern Living's Special Collector's Fall Recipes

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I went grocery shopping on Saturday. I usually try to go during the week, while Dudette’s in school, so I can relax and enjoy my leisurely meander down the aisles.

If you have kids, you know what I’m talking about.  I think there’s a child law that says that every item has to be touched. Something must be knocked off a shelf at least once. Each toy seen, even if it’s a dog toy, should be asked for.  A bathroom visit is essential. Water fountain use is optional, but receives extra credit. At the check-out, candy, gum, PEZ dispensers and eyeglass repair kits are all child law-approved begging items.

Even though I really enjoy grocery shopping (when I do it alone), I brought Dudette with me this time because I know she really likes it too and wanted some mother/daughter bonding time.

I should have remembered the child law that requires youngsters to ask questions. The entire time. As we talked together to answer why I bought three kinds of onions, why there are little windows in the back of bacon packages, and why there are a dozen or more brands of cat food when cats don’t care as long as their bowls are full, there was one question that stuck with me. Why do I choose the stuff I choose?

Good question. And, for once, I actually had an answer. I buy what I like, or if I don’t have an opinion about a product, I buy what’s cheapest or on sale.

Take those dozen brands of cat food. We feed our feline friend Iams. It’s full of good stuff without being over-the-top (our vet said so). I use Dawn detergent to hand wash my pots and pans because I think it’s the best grease cutter. I use Coast soap because I like the smell. I buy Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice because it cooks up perfectly every time (and it’s what my mom uses).

I don’t care about the kind of frozen vegetables in my freezer, so they’re always the store brand unless a name brand is on sale for a better price. Considering what toilet paper is used for, as long as it doesn’t have the same texture as my scrubbing sponge, the lowest price works for me.

The same thing can be said for the way I cook chicken. With the myriad of methods to fix up a bird, I always gravitate to roasting. I like the skin crispy. Same with the wings. You’ll notice that they’re never tucked under. That’s because I love the crunchy tips.

The Process

You’re going to need a roasting pan, a small bowl and a gratin dish. I love this kind of dish.

The instructions for this recipe are excellent in that they work through each item so there is a constant flow of prep and well-timed cooking. I love that too.

I’ve been seeing a lot more recipes that spread a seasoned butter between the meat and skin, and I like the idea a lot. What surprises me, however, is that very few include spreading the butter on top of the skin or inside the cavity.

While this recipe does cover the top, the cavity only gets a squirt of lemon juice and the cut lemons. A few sprigs of thyme included to infuse the meat from the inside would have been fantastic.

I didn’t have really big sweet potatoes or apples but I went ahead and cut the half moons, using two medium sweet potatoes and one decent-sized apple. A sprinkling of brown sugar and a drizzle of butter and my side dish was done, ready to be put in the oven about halfway through the chicken’s roasting.

As far as cooking went, the timing was perfect. I followed Southern Living’s instructions exactly and my bird was fork-tender.

The Verdict

Wow. I love me some roast chicken when it’s really good, and this is really good. We all thought so. Hubby ate until he had to go put on comfy pants. And it wasn’t just the chicken. The potato/apple combination was fantastic too. Between the three of us, we finished off all but a leg/thigh quarter and a spoonful of potatoes, both of which Hubby took to work this morning. This meal was a celebration of autumn on the dinner table.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I would add a couple sprigs of thyme to the cavity along with a few crushed garlic cloves.

Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Apples from Southern Living's Special Collector's Fall Recipes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Reviewed by:
Recipe type: Meat
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 (5- to 6-lb.) whole chicken
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Grate 2 tsp.zest from lemon; reserve lemon. Combine zest, softened butter, garlic, and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper. Discard neck and giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken; pat dry. Loosen and lift skin from breast. (Do not totally detach.) Spread half of butter mixture under skin; place thyme under skin. Replace skin.
  2. Cut reserved lemon in half; squeeze juice into cavity. Place lemon in cavity. Tie legs together with kitchen string; tuck wingtips under. Rub remaining butter mixture over chicken; sprinkle with remaining ½ tsp. each salt and pepper. Place, breast side up, on a greased rack in a greased roasting pan.
  3. Bake chicken at 425° for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel sweet potato and apples. Cut sweet potato into ¼-inch-thick half moons and apples into ¼-inch-thick wedges. Arrange half of sweet potatoes in a 9-inch gratin dish. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. brown sugar. Arrange apples in a single layer over sweet potatoes; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Top with remaining sweet potatoes; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Drizzle with ¼ cup melted butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with foil.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Bake chicken 15 minutes. Add potato mixture to oven. Bake chicken and potato mixture at the same time 35 minutes. Uncover potato mixture, and bake chicken and potato mixture 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into chicken thigh registers 180° and potatoes and apples are tender.
  5. Transfer chicken to a platter; cover with foil, and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with potato mixture.
What I'd Do Different Next Time
I would add a couple sprigs of thyme to the cavity along with a few crushed garlic cloves.


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