Saturday, April 7, 2012

Citrus-Herb Stuffed Whole Roast Chicken

So I know everyone has their own method for making a roast chicken, but in case you want to try something new (or maybe you've never done it) here is my own recipe. The citrus fruits not only flavor the meat really nicely, but also ensure the meat stays moist. After all, there's nothing sadder than a dried out chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole oven roaster chicken
  • 1/2 an orange (I used Valencia), cut into quarters
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme (go heavy on the thyme), sage, marjoram, and savory 
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or grapeseed oil
  • kosher/sea salt, to taste
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • garlic powder, to taste

1. First is the icky part of preparing the chicken. Reach inside and pull out the packet of giblets if there is one (don't be afraid to toss these in the pan and roast with the chicken... they're delicious!). Rinse the chicken off inside and out with cold water. Pull off any bits of fat that may be sticking to the cavity and trim off any extra skin hanging off the body. If the neck is still attached, cut that off as well. Now very importantly, pat your chicken dry with paper towels or kitchen towels. Make sure whatever you use won't leave lint behind, though. (Drying it off thoroughly is what will make it crisp up nicely on the outside once you bake it!)

2. Next, prepare all the items for stuffing. Wash and dry the herbs thoroughly, and rinse the outsides of your lemon and orange and dry. Peel your garlic cloves. Cut your lemon and orange wedges. If you have a smaller chicken, you may need to cut your citrus into smaller slices so that they more easily fit into the cavity. As the recipe is written, with half an orange, and a whole lemon, you should have 4 pieces of each.

3. Time to stuff!  Put a few pinches of salt in your hand and rub the inside of the cavity well to distribute. Do the same with some fresh ground pepper. Take a piece of lemon or orange and squeeze it slightly inside the cavity and then rub it around. Leave this piece lying face down all the way inside. Do this again with 3 more pieces of fruit, being sure to alternate so that you have 2 pieces each of lemon and orange lying face down in the cavity. Toss in a few cloves of the garlic. Take all your herbs and form them into a bouquet and lay them down on top of the bed of citrus inside the cavity. Take the last pieces of orange and lemon and do the same thing as the first time by squeezing and rubbing. Lay them down, this time face up with the meat of the fruit facing the cavity wall on top. Stuff the rest of your garlic inside.

4. Time to season the top. Take the tiniest drizzle of EVOO or grapeseed oil and rub it all over the skin. There shouldn't be any dripping or any visible excess. Sprinkle the top with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Feel free to sprinkle anything else on top there that you think you'd like!

5. Transfer to a roasting pan with a rack and bake at 375 degrees about 20 minutes per pound. If your chicken doesn't come with one of those handy dandy pop-up buttons which tell you when it's done, you can use a meat thermometer and insert it into the meaty part of the thigh. The thermometer should read at least 165 degrees to be safe. If you have neither the little button thingy, nor a meat thermometer, you can slice that part of the thigh open and see if the juices run clear and if the meat has turned white. If you notice any blood run out or see any pink meat, it's still got longer to go.

6. Be sure you take the chicken out often to baste it! This will stop it from burning, keep the meat moist, but also distribute the most AMAZING flavors all over your chicken. If you find you are not getting much juice dripping out, you could pour some chicken stock over top of your chicken. If you notice your chicken is browning a little too quickly cover it loosely with foil which will slow that down.  When the chicken is about done, remove the foil and let it bake for another 10 minutes to crisp it up nicely. Let it sit like 10 or 15 minutes before you carve it up.

mmmm... stuffing

ready for the oven

hey, don't waste them giblets! liver, gizzards, heart, and neck - yum!

toss those giblets right in the pan with a little oil and
remove them once they're nicely roasted

you may have to lightly tent your chicken with foil if it starts to brown too early
Done!

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