Orange-mustard roast chicken
I’m trying to catch up on the Portland food scene while I’m home, and while reading recent reviews in Willamette Week stumbled across my favorite assessment of local restaurant culture: “Other Portland restaurants have in-house butchery, of course, but Old Salt is the only one that relies exclusively on whole-animal butchery.” The “of course” really clinches it. How could a restaurant not butcher its own pigs?
It may be a bit tricky to get in on the whole-pig action at home (although you can watch your favorite butcher!), but you can jump on the trend by roasting a whole chicken. It’s cheap, you get a good variety of meats, and the carcass makes great stock. Don’t let a small, mostly flightless bird intimidate you; a solid roasting pan and bold accent flavors make good roast chicken a weeknight staple.
I drew from Yotam Ottolenghi’s roast chicken thighs in Plenty, so you can be sure that we’re using assertive flavors here. The combination of orange, mustard, and cardamom manages to hit bright, citrusy, spicy, and comforting notes at the same time, bringing life and interest to the sometimes-bland chicken. Plus the orange slices are beautiful! A thermometer helps the meat come out perfectly moist, with a crispy skin and juicy interior, and using the marinade as a sauce simplifies the preparation.
Science tidbit: the difference between white meat and dark meat (chicken breast vs. thigh, for example) comes from how the muscles are used during the bird’s life. In mostly earth-bound chickens and turkeys, the active thigh and leg muscles rely on fat for slow, sustained energy and the in-case-of-emergency breast muscles use quick-releasing glycogen. Turning fat into energy requires myoglobin, which gives dark meat its color, while the colorless glycogen in white meat leaves it pale. Extra fat stored in dark meat also contributes to its stronger flavor and more tender texture.
- 2 oranges
- ½ c. olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 T. whole-grain mustard
- 3 T. brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 T. cardamom pods
- 1 T. salt
- 2 t. pepper
- 1 whole chicken, 3-4 lbs.
- Zest and juice one orange, and cut the other into thin slices.
- Combine the orange zest, juice, and slices, oil, lemon juice, mustard, brown sugar, garlic, cardamom, salt, and pepper in a large ziploc bag. Add the chicken, seal the bag, and coat the entire chicken in the mixture. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan, and pour the marinating mixture over the top. If your pan is large, add orange juice, chicken stock, or water so that the liquid is at least ½ inch deep.
- Roast the chicken for 20 minutes, spoon marinating liquid over it, then turn it breast side up. Continue to roast for another 25-35 minutes, basting every 10 minutes, until a thermometer in the thigh reads 160 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before carving.
- If the pan juices seem thin, boil in a small pot to reduce as the chicken rests. Season to taste with salt and pepper after reducing.
- Carve the chicken and serve with the pan juices and orange slices.
Science from WiseGeek.