Toasting the fennel gives it a nutty flavor, and when you mix it with butter, it turns into a tasty rub. Experiment by adding some lemon to the butter, or throw in chili pepper or paprika. You can make more rub than you need and keep it in the fridge for all sorts of things.
• 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, plus 1 teaspoon
• 1 stick unsalted butter, plus two tablespoons, room temperature
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 small yellow onion, sliced
• 1 4-pound whole fresh chicken
• 3 garlic cloves, peeled
• 3 medium sweet potatoes
1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Toast fennel seeds in a medium pan over high heat for about 3 minutes. Crush in a mortar and pestle (or with the bottom of a smaller pan).
2. In a large bowl, combine butter and crushed fennel seeds. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Separate two tablespoons of butter mixture and set aside.
3. Place sliced onion in roasting tray. Season chicken cavity with salt and pepper and place garlic inside. Arrange chicken in roasting tray on top of onions. Using your fingers, separate the skin from the breast and smear some of the fennel butter into this pocket. Smear the rest on the outside of the bird, getting into all the gaps between the legs and wings. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs with kitchen twine.
4. Place tray in center of oven and roast for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F.
5. Prepare sweet potatoes: Using a fork, prick them all over then place on a small sheet tray in the same oven as the chicken to bake for 1 hour.
6. Remove chicken from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and allow to cool slightly. Cut sweet potatoes open and scoop flesh into a large bowl. Add reserved two tablespoons of compound butter. Serve smashed sweet potatoes with fennel-crusted roasted chicken.
Nutrition score per serving: 669 calories, 39 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 49 g fat (21 g saturated fat), 81 mg calcium, 3 mg iron, 3 g fiber, 181 mg sodium, 22 mcg folate