Maple Mustard Roast Chicken is a Family Dinner with Big Flavors

Maple Mustard Roast Chicken

Active time:15 minutes

Total time:1 hour


Active time:15 minutes

Total time:1 hour



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The days are getting shorter, the air is crisp, and there are about as many leaves on the ground as on the trees. As soon as the temperature drops below 50 degrees, I find myself wanting to turn up the oven. It’s the season for braises and roasts.

This maple and mustard roast chicken recipe is inspired by the one in British author Diana Henry’s cookbook “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors.” I love how thoughtful she was about this collection of recipes. The idea was to build on the theme of her 2004 book, “Pure Simple Cooking,” which she wrote shortly after having her first child.

“He was constantly crying,” Henry wrote in the intro, “so I always wore him and didn’t have my hands free. The more elaborate cuisine I had enjoyed before he arrived went out the window. In fact , I ate take-out pizza for several weeks after he was born, often through tears as I wondered if I would ever be able to cook again.

It’s a feeling that all my friends with young children have expressed to me. I try to feature simple recipes in this newsletter, but only working parents know what a really simple recipe looks like. “I started making dishes that were just stuck in the oven,” Henry continues. “I didn’t mind that they took a long time to cook, only if they took a long time to prepare. … It meant a lot to me that people quote ‘Cook Simple’ [her 2010 book] like a cookbook that really helped them. It’s not because it’s a fast food book, but a low effort food book.

That’s the ticket: foods that don’t require too much handling time, yet deliver satisfying flavors.

Here you will make a mixture of butter, maple syrup and mustard. It is brushed lightly over the bird before entering the oven, then brushed deeply just before the bird exits. We end up with a browned chicken, tender and almost sticky thanks to this sweet and salty sauce.

For Henry’s recipe, the poultry is roasted with fresh figs. Where I live fresh figs are hard to come by so I tried this with a robust combination of onions and carrots. They roast under the chicken, capturing its juices, for a one-pan meal that only takes 15 minutes to prepare and 45 minutes to cook.

The only tricky part of this recipe is mash the chicken. If you’ve never done this before, I’ll walk you through the general method (it’s also described in detail below). I like to use kitchen shears to cut out the spine. Then I turn the bird over and press down on its sternum, allowing it to lay flat. This helps it cook much faster. If you are pressed for time, ask your supermarket butcher to do this part for you.

Henry recommends serving it with a grain such as brown rice, bulgur, or cooked freekeh with finely grated orange zest.

Maple Mustard Roasted Chicken

  • No maple syrup? >> Use honey or brown sugar instead.
  • Want to skip the butter? >> Olive oil works well.
  • Don’t like chicken? >> Try this with a pork loin, which will take much less time to cook.
  • If you don’t eat meat >> I would brush this marinade on portobello mushroom caps. Roast the carrots and onions until barely tender before adding the mushroom caps to the pan.

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  • 1 bunch baby carrots (1 pound total), trimmed, washed and very coarsely chopped
  • 2 small yellow onions (10 ounces total), cut into eighths
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
  • A whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more if needed

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Spread the onions and carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss until lightly coated.

In a small bowl, use a pastry brush to combine the melted butter, mustard, maple syrup and chopped thyme or rosemary.

Spatchcock the Chicken: Place the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. Remove giblets, if included. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone of the chicken to remove it. Turn the bird’s chest up and use the heels of your hands to press down on the sternum, flattening it slightly. Trim excess fat, if desired. Pat it dry and season it on all sides and in all crevices with salt and pepper. Place it over the vegetables on the baking sheet, breast side up. Lightly brush the chicken with the maple-mustard mixture and slide it into the hot oven, legs facing the bottom of the oven.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes or until starting to brown. Using tongs, toss the vegetables so they brown evenly. Baste the chicken generously with the maple-mustard mixture, then roast for 5 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining maple-mustard mixture, then roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees and the juices run clear. Let the chicken rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving it. (To avoid contaminating your cooked poultry, do not apply the maple-mustard mixture once your poultry is well cooked.) Serve with onions and carrots on the side.

Per serving (2 pieces of chicken, 1 cup of vegetables)

Calories: 530; Total fat: 20 g; Saturated fat: 6g; Cholesterol: 219mg; Sodium: 981mg; Carbohydrates: 26g; Dietary fiber: 5g; Sugar: 14g; Protein: 64g.

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Simple” by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, 2016).

Tested by G. Daniela Galarza; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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Check out this week’s Eat Voraciously recipes:

Monday: Green lentil soup with noodles and mint

Tuesday: Eggs in a hole with curly lettuce

Wednesday: Kabocha Squash and Peanut Stew

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