What is it about a roast chicken that warms the hearts of so many of us? There is something so iconic
and comforting about a roast chicken. Just knowing that a chicken is roasting away in the kitchen is already a soothing fact, for probably the entire family. At least it was for me, even at the age of eight! When I found out that we were having roast chicken for dinner, that knowledge kept me going from breakfast, through recess, math class, that geography test, and the walk home.
When I’m at the market and pick out a Mennonite farm raised chicken roaster from Witteveen Butchers at St Lawrence Market, I get giddy thinking about how I might prepare it. There are so many possibilities. This last week at the market though, I had clearly in mind my goal: the Roast Citrus, Ginger and Honey Chicken from Simple by Diana Henry. It would be the last recipe I would make in February for our Rainy Day Bites cookbook club. Don’t those flavours just call out to you?! Along with the citrus, ginger and honey, there are also garlic and hot sauce involved. A real party of flavours.
It’s a pretty easy recipe to prepare. No fancy chicken prep needed. Just a pan that it can fit snugly into. This is because as Diana mentions, if the pan is too big, the cooking juices around the bird will burn. A sticky mess. So out came a pie plate this time around. You mix up all the marinade ingredients and pour some into the bird and the rest over and around the bird. And then you bake it. That’s it. The fun part comes when you also prepare orange (or any citrus you will enjoy as a side dish) wedges and roast them in another pan, next to that chicken. They become brilliantly caramelized and softened. If they are truly thin skinned, feel free to eat the whole wedge!
I decided that my only departure from the original recipe would be replacing the hot sauce with Entube Harissa paste. Diana doesn’t specify which hot sauce to use, so feel free to go the Sriracha route, Mexican or Korean hot sauce route, or as one fellow cookbook club member did, by using Frank’s Hot Sauce! I just couldn’t help thinking that Harissa would be the perfect flavour balance to the honey and ginger. And boy was it ever! It didn’t overpower at all, but you definitely knew it was there! I served the chicken with five spice powder infused basmati rice, and steamed broccoli. Adding some of the orange wedges to the cooked broccoli, and then drizzling these with some of the orange and ginger sauce made for a perfect side dish.
So add this to your Roast Chicken recipes. It’s great to have a well stocked arsenal of roast chicken options. I know I like having options, because I could have roast chicken once a week! Really!!
Roast Citrus, Ginger and Honey Chicken
One of the most aromatic roast chickens you'll ever make! Sweet, spicy, tangy all combine in a marinade which creates a glorious glaze that turns from a stunning amber to dark and glossy. The side or roasted orange wedges drizzles with ginger, brown sugar and olive oil makes a lovely accompaniment.
- 4 lb chicken
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup honey the runny kind
- 1 1/2 tbsp hot sauce I used Entube Harissa sauce
- 3 garlic cloves grated or minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger root peeled and grated
- finely grated zest from 2 oranges these will help make the above juice
- kosher salt and cracked pepper
- 1 cup chicken stock or water if needed
- 4 thin skinned oranges
- olive oil
- ground ginger
- soft brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 375F
Pat dry the inside and outside of the chicken. Place into a baking or roasting pan which will snuggly hold the bird. If it is too large, then the cooking juices and the marinade will burn while roasting.
Whisk the orange juice through to the salt and pepper in a pitcher.
Pour some of this into the bird, and then 2/3 of the marinade over the chicken, reserving the remainder for later on.
Roast for 45 minutes.
While the chicken is roasting, prepare the orange wedges.
Cut the thin skinned oranges into wedges and put them into an ovenproof dish where they can lie in a single layer. Sprinkle them all with some of the olive oil, ground ginger, and some salt and pepper. Turn them to coat well. Then sprinkle them with the brown sugar.
After 45 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven, scoop up the sticky juices around it with a spoon and spread this over the skin. Add the rest of the orange juice marinade to the pan, stirring them to blend well. Return to the oven, along with the pan of orange wedges.
After another 45 minutes have passed, and you have basted the chicken a few times more, check for doneness. The internal temperature should be 170F when the thickest part of the thigh is checked. And any juices from the thigh should run clear. If this is not the case, roast for another 15 minutes (it took me 15 minutes more to achieve the required doneness)
Remove from the oven to rest. If the orange wedges have been in the oven for 1 hour, they should be done as well now.
While the chicken is resting on a warm platter for a good 15 minutes, loosely tented with foil, you can tend to the sauce:
If the juices in the pan seem too thick or intense, add the stock or water to the pan, set it over high heat (if the pan is designed to sit on a stove element) and bring to a boil, stirring to dislodge any bits at the bottom of the pan.
If your pan cannot sit on a stove burner, transfer the juices to a pot and continue with cooking the stock or water.
Cook until desired consistency is reached.
Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve in a pitcher, Add the orange wedges around the chicken. Serve.