Friday, September 18, 2009

Whole Roasted Orange Chicken

We went through a very brief period of unemployement last spring.  David was able to find a new job after just  weeks...truly a blessing.  When we found out he would be leaving his previous job, I started cutting back on our grocery bill, and we made a list of everything in the freezers and used those items first before going out to buy more.  Even though David has a new job, I've been cooking more frugally ever since.  I wouldn't say our grocery bill is significantly less, but I now look at my freezer lists and plan my meals around what we have or what's on sale in the store ads. 

I had some oranges, parsley, and a whole chicken, and figured I could roast the bird using those ingredients.  I searched the internet for some ideas, and modified this recipe just a tad--I also cut back on the butter and added more garlic. 

Another thing I did was look for a way to brine the chicken.  I referred to this article from Cooks IllustratedI like a really juicy roast chicken, with crispy skin...and knew I'd have to brine the bird first to get the results I wanted.  This takes some pre-planning, but it's not hard at all.  And as you can see, it really worked.  I have never had a roast chicken turn out so gorgeous!

I wish I could have garnished the platter, but my chicken weighed nearly 5 pounds (and took longer to roast than I expected).  So it was nearly 7 PM by the time we sat down to eat.  I snapped a couple of pics and David swiftly took the carving knife to it!  Everyone loved, even Christina said it was good.

Whole chickens are usually the most economically way to buy poultry, so next time they're on sale, give this recipe a try.

Whole Roasted Orange Chicken

1 whole chicken (3-5 pounds)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Handful of fresh parsley, stems removed
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 orange
4 cloves garlic
salt and black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup orange juice

Early in the day, or the day before
First things first-- brining the chicken.  If you skip the brining, that's okay, but this step will guarantee juicy meat and crispy skin.  Rinse the chicken cavity and discard the giblets.  You will need a very large pot or very large zip-top bag to brine the chicken.  Make sure you have ample room in the fridge, cause this bird's going to be hanging out in there for a few hours. 

Here's my pot of brine mixed up...I know, it looks like it's just water...but it's not.   

I mentioned this article from Cooks Illustrated which tells you how to brine meat.  Refer to the chart on page 17 to make your brine.  My bird weighed nearly 5 pounds, so I used 4 quarts of water, 16 tablespoons of Morton Kosher Salt, 8 tablespoons of sugar, and I brined the chicken for 5 hours. It says one quart of brine for every pound of meat, but not to exceed 2 gallons of brine.  So a 5 quart pot was a good size to use.  Once you've got the brine mixed up, just put the chicken in, and let it soak for a while. 

After 5 hours, I took the chicken out, poured the brine down the drain, and patted the chicken dry with some paper towels. 

Now we need to let the chicken air, uncovered in the fridge.  Place the chicken breast-side up and let it chill out.  The Cooks Illustrated article says overnight is best, but I only did mine for 3 hours.  If you've go the time, do it overnight. 

Meanwhile, you can get the stuffing together. 

Zest both the oranges and put it into the orange juice. 

I know the recipe says only one orange, but I knew one of the kids would walk through the kitchen and want the other one, so I peeled and quartered both.  (Sure enough, Gabriel and Rebecca came through the kitchen and split the second orange). 

Take 1/2 of the garlic slices and gently slide them under the skin of the chicken.  If you need to, carefully loosen the skin under the breasts, drumsticks, and thighs (which are easier to get to if you turn the bird over). 

Before going any further, I want to show you the pan I'm going to use to roast the chicken.  The best thing to use is a small rack inside a larger roasting/baking pan, but I only have large cooling racks, and I wasn't able to find a smaller one at Walmart.  So, I took a small, mini-muffin tin, flipped it upside down, and put it inside a 9x13 pan. 

Make sure to use a good quality pan, since we'll be roasting the chicken at a high heat.  If you don't have a mini-muffin pan, crumble up some balls of foil and lay the chicken on top of them, or if you have one of these v-shaped racks, you can use that too.  The idea is to try to create some space under the bird so the heat can get to it, and roast it more evenly. 

Season the inside of the bird with some salt and pepper.  Then stuff the cavity of the chicken with the rest of the garlic, parsley, oranges, onions, and 2 tablespoons of butter.

Now we're going to tuss the chicken.  Trussing the bird will keep the stuffing in place, and make the roast more compact, allowing for more even cooking.  If you need some help with this technique, here's a simple video you can watch.  Just make sure you use oven-proof kitchen string, which you can find at any grocery store (especially around Thanksgiving).  I also made 2 holes in the skin flaps at the top of the cavity and ran the string through there, so my cavity would stay shut (this step is completely optional). 

Almost ready to roast!  Here's my bird, 2 steps away from the oven.  If you look closely, you can see the slivers of garlic under the skin. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and brush the chicken all over--don't forget the underside too.  Then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, top, bottom, get the idea, right ;-) ?

Time to roast!  Ready or not, you're goin' in!

 Roast the chicken, wing side up for 15 minutes.  Then flip it over to the other wing side, and roast for another 15 minutes.  I used some foil balls to keep the chicken on its side.  (This is where a v-rack could come in handy, but that's okay...we can improvise.  I don't think a lot of home cooks have a v-rack lying around). 

After the first 30 minutes, (15 minutes on on side, 15 minutes on the other side) here's what the chicken will look like.  Turn the oven up to 450 degrees and rotate the chicken breast side up.  I had a couple foil balls propping up the backside, which was the heavier end.   

Continue to roast the chicken for about 20-25 minutes longer, or until a meat thermometer registers between 165-170 when inserted into the thigh.   My bird weighed nearly 5 pounds, so it took about 35-40 minutes to finish. 

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or platter, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Lands sakes alive people, would you look at that?  Isn't it a beatiful sight? 

While the chicken is resting, take the pan drippings and add to a small pot along with the orange juice. Place over medium heat until the sauce is hot and slightly thickened.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with the chicken.  Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of the sauce.  It tasted like greasy orange juice because I didn't take the time to skim off the fat beforehand.  But the sauce went into a container and into the fridge-- the next day, the fat had solidified, and I was able to remove it quickly before reheating it for dinner.  This time, it was MUCH better.  So, note to self, degrease the sauce first (I should have use my fat separator). 

David and the kids all said this was one of the best chickens I'd ever put on the table.  I made Sauteed Spinach and Sweet Potato Fries on the side.  Rebecca kept sneaking pieces of the crispy skin until we made her stop. was really good, I'll tell ya!

This recipe did take some time, but the results were so worth it.  I will definitely make this again, but not during the week like I did this time...I'll save it for the weekends when I'm not so rushed.  What an awesome Sunday dinner this would be!

God Bless your table tonight!

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