This is what I call a sleeper recipe. At first glance it doesn’t look like much — a whole chicken rubbed with a little fresh ginger, roasted, and served alongside elbow macaroni tossed with diced tomatoes and the roasting juices. Exactly what makes this dish so remarkable is hard to pinpoint, but there’s a wonderful alchemy that occurs when the chicken, ginger, and tomato all come together. It’s comforting, a little exotic, and truly delicious. To create a maximum of pan juices — since these become the sauce for the noodles — I add the giblets to the roasting pan and pour a bit of white wine over the chicken partway through roasting. During roasting, the drippings, the wine, and the roasted giblets cook together, creating a savory jus. The chicken also roasts on a rack to encourage the drippings to caramelize a bit as they hit the hot pan, developing even more flavor. I make this year-round using canned tomatoes, but if you make it in the summer, by all means use fresh ripe tomatoes.
The inspiration for this dish come from Lulu’s Provençal Table, by Richard Olney, one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. When I first read the recipe, I was immediately taken with the idea of tossing roasting juices onto hot pasta. In this version, I’ve tweaked the flavors and method some, but the concept of combining tomatoes, ginger, and pan drippings remains true to the original. I confess that I did experiment with other shapes of pasta, thinking that a different shape might make the dish more sophisticated, but I returned to the simplicity and familiarity of elbow macaroni. If you decide to branch out, choose a short shape with enough squiggle, such as cavatappi, to hold the sauce.
Plan ahead: For the best flavor, season the chicken 8 to 24 hours ahead of roasting.
Wine: Youthful fruity Provence rose or Grenache-based rose from Navarra Spain.
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger, divided
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- One 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, preferably with giblets
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 12 ounces dried elbow macaroni
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices, or 1 scant pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley, plus sprigs for garnish, if desired
Season the chicken. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the ginger, 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.
Over the sink, remove the giblets from the chicken, if there are any (they are usually tucked into the cavity). Reserve all but the liver. (Discard the liver or save it for another use.) Hold the chicken over the drain and let any juice run out. Pat the chicken dry inside and out with paper towels. With your fingers, pull away and discard any large deposits of fat from the neck or body cavity opening. Then, using your fingertips and starting at the cavity opening, gently loosen the skin over the breast and thighs of the chicken. Once the skin is loose, rub about three quarters of the ginger mixture under the skin, over the breast and thighs. Rub the rest inside the cavity. Smear the surface all over with about 1 teaspoon olive oil. Season the breast liberally with more salt and pepper. Tuck the wing tips back so they are secure under the neck bone. If you are seasoning the bird ahead of time, refrigerate it for at least 8 hours and up to 48 hours, uncovered or lightly covered with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the giblets too, if using. If you are not seasoning that far in advance, let the bird stand at room temperature to allow some of the rub’s flavoring to penetrate; it can safely stay at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
Heat the oven. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 degrees (375 degrees convection).
Roast the chicken. If you have giblets, put them in a medium, low-sided roasting pan or gratin or baking dish (about 8 by 12 inches). Set a roasting rack over the giblets and put the chicken breast side up on the rack. Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken and put it in the oven, with the legs facing the rear wall. After 25 minutes, open the oven door and pour the vermouth or wine over the chicken. If at any time the liquid in the pan appears to dry up, add 1/4 cup water to the pan. Continue roasting, basting the chicken once or twice by spooning the pan drippings over the breast, until the juices run clear with only a trace of pink when you prick the thigh and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching bone) registers 170 degrees, another 35 to 55 minutes.
Lift the chicken out of the pan, using a fork or tongs to steady it, and carefully tilt it to pour the juices from the cavity into the roasting pan. Transfer the chicken to a carving board (preferably one with a trough). Discard the giblets, but reserve all the juices in the pan.
Cook the macaroni. About 10 minutes before the chicken is done, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. While the chicken rests, warm a wide, shallow serving dish or bowl big enough for the cooked macaroni; I like to use a 2- to 3-quart gratin or baking dish. A pasta bowl works as well. Cook the macaroni until tender but not mushy, about 7 minutes or according to the package instructions.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a medium skillet (10 inches), heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, the remaining 2 teaspoons ginger, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and just golden, about 1 minute (lower the heat if the garlic threatens to scorch). Add the tomatoes and their juices and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring often, evaporating some of the juice, until the tomatoes begin to brown in spots, about 8 minutes. (They won’t get very brown because of the liquid, but you want to see a few caramelized bits.) Taste for salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the basil or parsley.
Sauce the macaroni, carve the chicken, and serve. Drain the macaroni and transfer it to the warmed serving dish. Add the sauce along with all the juices from the roasting pan (don’t skim the fat from the roasting pan juices; you want it to enrich the pasta). Toss well, taste, and season as needed with salt and pepper. Carve the chicken, add any carving juices to the macaroni, and serve the chicken alongside the macaroni. Garnish with herb sprigs, if desired.