Saturday, June 27, 2009

Easy-to-make Rosemary & Orange Roasted Chicken

I love both eating and cooking roasted chicken as it is not only delicious but also does not require much prep time. The time factor is a heaven-sent especially for busy parents struggling to cook dinner after long a day at the office. First, let me describe how to prepare a roasted chicken meal on the fly and then after that, we can get into the specifics of making the rosemary and orange glaze.

All you need is a whole chicken (or a combination of breast and thigh meat) and a few ingredients one should have handy around the house. First, clean the chicken thoroughly (including the inner cavity of the whole chicken), removing the extra fat and skin. Melt some butter and generously lather it all over the chicken. Seasoning can be as simple as just salt and pepper or with an addition of maybe dried oregano or thyme, Old Bay, poultry or roasted garlic seasonings. Now, put the chicken on a baking pan and cover it with foil paper and bake it in the oven at 450 degrees F. If you have potatoes or carrots lying around your refrigerator, you can roast those with the chicken as well. To get an even cooking time, try to cut the potatoes and carrots into equal size chunks. Oil these pieces well and season with salt and pepper as well as some dried herbs if you have any. Oregano and thyme perform very well for this particular function. Just lay the vegetables in the same pan as the chicken and roast in the oven. Now you have your protein, your starch (from the potatoes) AND also your vegetable roasting in the oven all at the same time!

Now, to make the rosemary and orange glaze, I approached the initial preparation of the chicken a little differently. Clean and season chicken as I described in the earlier paragraph. However, before roasting it in the oven, brown the outside skin of the chicken first on a hot skillet. After that is done, remove the chicken and set it aside. You can now see the yummy tiny bits and pieces plus some of the oils from the chicken left behind from the browning on the skillet. Finely chop up some garlic and shallots and cook them on the skillet. Now, deglaze the skillet with orange juice and orange flavored liqueur like Triple Sec or Grand Marnier (if you have some handy). Add chopped fresh rosemary and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced and the contents become thick and sauce-like. Taste it and season with some salt if need be. Portion the glaze into two, one to act as a sauce when serving and the other for the cooking of the chicken. Get a brush and spread one portion of the glaze over the entire chicken that was set aside earlier. You can now start roasting the chicken in the oven, initially covered with foil paper. When the chicken is almost done, remove the foil and roast it uncovered for another 5 - 10 minutes in order to get the glaze caramelized on the chicken. At this point, watch the chicken carefully as the caramelization process can quickly accelerate without warning and you might be confronted with burnt chicken skin instead.

Roasting a whole chicken can take an hour or more in the oven but the best part is the initial prep time is fast and you can almost forget about it when it goes into the oven. Set a timer and go do something fun with the kids while waiting for dinner to finish cooking. Serve the roasted chicken with the portion of the glaze (you might want to thin it out a little with a touch of orange juice) that you set aside earlier together with the potatoes and carrots and you have yourself a complete meal for the family all set with minimum fuss.

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