“I tried to think of things that he would particularly like,” says Garten, who is featured in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now. Since his favorite food is “all kinds of roast chicken,” she gave her tried and true recipe an update, surrounding it with simple roasted radishes. (If you’re more of a traditionalist, get the original recipe here.)
The Barefoot Contessa host says the dish was inspired by her travels. “I was invited to a dinner party in Paris and someone made turkey with roasted radishes, and I thought, ‘I’ve never roasted a radish in my life.’ They’re so good cooked.”
For Garten, this meal is a prime example of her philosophy that when cooking, simple is always better. “Food is not about impressing people,” she says. “It’s about making people feel comfortable, and nothing makes people feel more comfortable than like a family dinner like roast chicken.”
“When people come over for dinner, they expect it to be fabulous and the pressure is on me to make sure it is,” she adds. Just when people are expecting “something fancy like veal-stuffed prunes and Armagnac,” she serves them something casual. “It’s a good roast chicken, but it’s still just a roast chicken,” she laughs.
Ina Garten’s Roast Chicken with Radishes Recipe
1 (4- to 4 ½-lb.) roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, quartered
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1½ lb. radishes (preferably mixed heirloom), trimmed and scrubbed
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan or ceramic baking dish just large enough to hold the chicken and radishes, and sprinkle the cavity liberally with salt and pepper. Put the lemon and the thyme sprigs in the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen string, and tuck the wings under the body. Cut any larger radishes in half so that they are all about the same size, and place around the chicken.
2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Brush the chicken and radishes all over with the melted butter, and sprinkle them both liberally with salt and pepper.
3. Roast for 1 hour, 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve the chicken, and serve with the radishes and pan juices.
MAKE AHEAD: Assemble the entire dish, cover and refrigerate for up to a day. Brush with butter and roast before serving.
For more on Ina Garten and exclusive recipes from her new cookbook Cooking for Jeffrey, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.