· 6 medium (3 pounds) sweet potatoes
· 16 cipollini onions or small white onions
· 1/2 cup brown sugar
· Freshly ground black pepper
· Extra virgin olive oil
· Two 4- to 6-pound roasting chickens
· 16 sage leaves, with stems reserved for stuffing cavity
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into four pieces each. Peel the onions and if they are large cut in half to form half-moons. In a large bowl, toss the onions and the sweet potatoes with the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and just enough olive oil to moisten. Place the vegetables in a large roasting pan.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Cut off the tail and the excess skin and fat on the chickens. Separate the skin from the meat by gently working from the front and back of the breasts with your fingers. Move down the breasts and over the tops of the thighs and legs. Separate the skin as far as your fingers can reach. Slide the sage leaves between the skin and the meat. Position one on top of each of the legs, one on each of the thighs, and two on each breast.
Season the cavity of the chickens well with salt and pepper; stuff the sage stems into the cavity. Tie the birds with kitchen twine: Cut a string measuring 24 inches long or measure a piece of string three times the length of the bird. Loop the center of the string over the neck bone and under the shoulders. Run the string over the wings and along the bottom of the breast so that it is tucked in between the breast and the thigh. Cross the string at the point of the breast and tie once, pulling the string tightly. Loop each end of the string around the end of each drumstick and tie once to pull the legs snugly against the point of the breast. Tie a second time to form a knot. Trim the ends of the string.
To do a quick truss, make a slit on either side of the breast just above the thigh/leg joint, parallel to the breast meat in the space where the breast meat ends and the thigh meat begins. It should be wide enough to stick the ends of the legs in. The slit should be about 2 inches from the edge of the cavity. Turn the bird so that the cavity is facing toward you. Grab the end of the drumstick and push the leg thigh joint back toward the wing. Tuck the end of the drumstick into the slit and pat the leg back into position, repeat with the other leg.
Rub the chickens with olive oil and season their skin well with salt and pepper. Place the birds on top of the prepared vegetables in the roasting pan. Oven-sear the chickens in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F and add 1 cup of water to the roasting pan. The water will mix with the caramelized juices of the chicken and vegetables and produce a wonderful pan juice. Roast for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours; add more water if the pan juices become dry.
The chickens are done when a thermometer reads 145 degrees F when inserted into the thigh or when the juices run clear from the thigh and leg when pierced. Remove the chickens and place them on a cutting board or platter. Let the chickens rest covered lightly with a foil tent for 15 minutes before carving. They will continue to cook as they rest. Cut the chickens into eight pieces each (cut the large breasts in half). Serve with onions and potatoes on the side and the degreased pan juices spooned over.
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