Monday, August 29, 2011

Chicken à l'Orange

Duck l'Orange is a retro classic French dish that isn't too popular these days. I think it saw it's heyday in the 60s and 70s. Even so, it is a classic for a reason. Poultry and oranges work so well together because the oranges have a great balance of sweetness and acidity to flavor the meat and keep it tender. I don't even know where i would procure a good duck and I can't say I really want to, but why not try it with chicken? The cooking method here is to blast the chicken in a very hot oven up front, to crispy up the skin and then lower the temperature and let it roast and steam in wine and orange juice until cooked through. Pretty straightforward. Then there is a sauce. I've never been one for too much fussy gravy because you need the pan juices to make it so you are fidgeting over the stove at the last minute. But I figured that this was special. It was French. It deserved the sauce, so I made a simple orange sauce to go with. You could skip the sauce if you want, the chicken was juicy enough without it, but I thought it was worth making. Chicken à l'Orange
1 4-5 Lb. chicken
3 oranges
3 Tbs. butter, room temperature
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp. fresh thyme (1/2 dried)
1 tsp. fresh rosemary (1/2 dried)
salt and pepper

1. Zest one of the oranges.
2. In a small bowl mix together the orange zest with the soft butter. Add 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and the chopped rosemary and thyme.
3. Chop another orange in half and then into large slices.
4. Chop the onion and lay it in the bottom of your roasting dish with the garlic cloves to form a bed for the chicken. Wash and pat the chicken dry and place it on top of the onions.
5. Stuff the chicken with the orange slices.
6. Rub the soft, seasoned butter all over the chicken skin. This will go smoothly if the butter is soft and the chicken skin has been patted dry with a paper towel. Butter and water are not friends and the butter will seize up if the skin is very damp.
7. Place the chicken into a hot, preheated 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.
8. After 30 minutes, pour 1 cup of white wine and the juice from one orange into the roasting pan and turn the heat down to 350 degrees and cook for another hour.
8. To make the sauce while the chicken is cooking, peel and chop the flesh of the remaining orange and simmer on low with 1/2 cup white wine for 30 minutes.
9. When the chicken comes out of the oven, remove the chicken from the pan to a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes. 10. While the chicken is resting, pour the juices from the pan into the orange sauce and bring to a boil. Let it reduce for 15 minutes until it is a nice, thick sauce.
11. Slice up the chicken and serve with the sauce.
Make sure everyone gets some of the crispy, orange scented skin and the juicy meat.

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