Perfect for the holiday season, this citrus roasted whole chicken is packed with the flavor of oranges, grapefruits, rosemary, and thyme.
This post is sponsored by Petaluma Poultry – Home of ROCKY® and ROSIE® Chicken.
Chicken has saved our family holidays on more than one occasion. While most of us lean towards turkey or ham during this season, if there is a mishap, guess who is there to bail you out of an emergency dinner party situation.
Yep, the chicken.
I was just talking to my mom about this last week. I didn’t make it back home for Thanksgiving this year, but apparently the turkey had some problems. The solution, run to the store and grab a chicken. And I know that shredded chicken has made its way into my grandmother’s stuffing recipe instead of turkey more than once in the past.
Whole chickens are easier to find fresh, thaw faster if they are frozen, and take little effort to turn out tender, juicy, and full of flavor. To be honest, I’m a bigger fan of chicken myself.
So I say it’s about time we stop treating the chicken as the understudy in the holiday dinner play and go ahead and give it the leading the role. I’m starting with this recipe.
My favorite thing about winter is citrus. It is something that went completely under appreciated until we moved to California. Maybe it is all the varieties I can find at the farmers market, or maybe it’s because I now live where most of the state’s, and good portion of the country’s, citrus is grown. I can’t drive 5 miles without seeing oranges, mandarins, or lemons hanging so thick and heavy on trees that the branches brush the ground.
I like to infuse my holiday season with all this citrus in any way that I can.
If you remember from back in September, I’m partnering with Petaluma Poultry over the next few months to share my love of cooking with the whole bird. When they sent along some ROCKY® whole chickens, it gave me the perfect opportunity to add my beloved citrus to a simple main course that puts chicken in the spotlight at the holiday table.
These chickens are raised around Sonoma County and three varieties are available — ROCKY® The Free Range Chicken, ROSIE® The Original Organic Chicken and SONOMA RED® Pasture Raised Chicken. For me, the brand serves as a good example of how poultry companies can make positive changes to provide a more humanely raised and high-quality product. I can’t express enough what great success I have with them in the kitchen. Whether I cook them in the oven, in the slow cooker or on the grill, they are always juicy and tender.
This is another whole chicken recipe that if judged by the final presentation, it fools you into thinking its complicated to make. Trust me, it is not. It takes little more effort than halving citrus and peeling a clove of garlic. That’s it.
The chicken is stuffed with fruit and herbs and then basted with a sweet and savory orange juice while it roasts. Adding a few citrus halves to the bottom of the baking pan infuses it with even more citrus flavor. If you have a baster, use that to drizzle the pan drippings over the chicken about every 15 minutes while it bakes. If not, you an simply use a long handle pastry brush to accomplish the task.
This recipe uses oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. Feel free to substitute any of your favorite citrus. I think tangerines and mandarins would work well. I would also love to try using cara cara and blood oranges, but we are about two weeks out from that season around here.
Be sure to buy some extra citrus and herbs for serving. There is nothing more stunning around the holidays than the main course displayed on a beautiful plate of citrus halves.
Once its on the table you can feel satisfied that you finally gave the chicken the credit it deserves. Then sit back and enjoy a delicious meal that was easy to make, paired with your favorite holiday sides. I hear mine calling for some roasted Brussels sprouts and buttery mashed potatoes.
Citrus Roasted Whole Chicken
Makes about 4 servings
What you’ll need:
1, 4 1/2 to 5 lb. whole chicken
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 navel oranges
1 red grapefruit
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 to 3, 4-inch sprigs rosemary
2 to 3, 4-inch sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
How to make it:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Pat the chicken dry and place breast-side up on a baking sheet. Brush evenly with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Juice three of the oranges to make about 1/2 cup. Juice one of the lemons to make about 2 tablespoons and one of the limes to make about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Juice the red grapefruit to make about a 1/2 cup. Combine the juices in the cup of a single serving blender (or similar appliance). Add the brown sugar and garlic clove. Puree on high for about 15 seconds until the garlic is finely chopped and the liquid is frothy. Pour the liquid into the bottom of a large baking dish.
Halve the remaining two oranges and two lemons. Place three orange halves and three lemon halves cut-side up in the baking dish.
Stuff the remaining one orange half and one lemon half into the chicken cavity along with the rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string. Transfer the chicken to the baking dish and arrange breast-side up on top of the fruit halves.
Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Every 15 minutes, open the oven and carefully baste or brush the chicken with the juices in the bottom of the pan.
Let sit 15 minutes before serving.