This is an old-school recipe from some late-aughts, nondescript Hebrew recipe aggregator site. I found it on erev Rosh haShanah, with a cranky toddler attached to my leg, desperately willing the chicken to defrost. I was determined to host an inspiring evening, and this was an inauspicious beginning. Luckily, it has a happy ending, and the recipe was heretofore adopted into the repertoire, as in, "You're making Rosh haShanah chicken this year, RIGHT?"
The recipe is so simple, it's kind of hard to believe that it works so well. There's a simple, honey-centric sauce that you pour over the chicken in the pan, after layering in the potatoes and apples. There's also a stealth layer of onion hiding under it all, waiting to soak up all the flavors and turn itself into a nice pan gravy. And there you go, Rosh haShanah in a pan.
One of the changes I've made over the years is to use one tart apple and one sweet apple. The sweet (red) apple tends to soften and cook into the sauce, while the tart (green) apple holds its shape and gives you full-on apple flavor and even a bit of crunch. I also like the baby potatoes because they're fast (hey, no peeling and chopping) and make for a smart presentation, but you can use regular yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped into large pieces, instead.
If you're unsure whether your chicken is cooked through, look for an internal temperature of 175F /80C on an instant-read thermometer. (I know that most sources will have it a bit lower for breast meat, but at 165F / 74C, but I find that it's seems not quite down at that temperature, so I recommend a little higher, covering both white and dark meat parts of the chicken.) I start checking a small chicken around the half hour mark roasting at 375F / 190C, though it usually needs more. Stick a fork in the potatoes (a literal one, not proverbial) to see if they're tender.
Rosh haShanah Roast Chicken with Apples & Honey
- 1 whole chicken - weight will vary; pick 2.5lbs / 1kg for a small crowd, 4.5lbs / 2kg for a larger group
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 lbs baby yellow or fingerling potatoes - 1kg
- 1 tart green apple, such as Granny Smith - sliced, unpeeled
- 1 sweet red apple, such as Honeycrisp
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup honey
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, for garnish, optional - sprigs of rosemary or taragon also work nicely
- Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C. Prepare a large baking or roasting pan with spray oil.
- Spread out the sliced onion in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Place the whole chicken on top of the onion in the center of the pan, breast side up (the drumsticks will be pointing up).
- Arrange the baby potatoes around the chicken. Scatter the apple slices over the potatoes.
- Drizzle the potatoes and apples with olive oil. Season them and the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste.
- In a 2-cup glass measuring up or small bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and minced garlic. Whisk to combine. Pour over the chicken.
- Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes minutes, until nicely browned on top and the vegetables are tender. This will depend on the size of your chicken, so if you are using a small chicken (around 2.5lbs / 1kg), start checking it around the 30 minute mark. If you are using a larger chicken (around 4.5lbs / 2kg), you might need more than 45 minutes.