The Alchemist's Chicken (Chicken Roasted with Seville Oranges, Onions and Bay)

By creamtea
April 29, 2011
13 Comments


Author Notes: This chicken recipe is more than the sum of its parts. You will need fragrant Seville (sour) oranges, the same ones that flavor marmalade and duck a l'orange, available in winter and spring only. Regular oranges will not work. The flavor is indescribably mysterious, but the disparate elements join together in a wonderful and satisfying way. If using only one chicken, this recipe makes extra seasoning paste to either freeze or add to additional chicken quarters for extra guests.creamtea

Makes: up to 2 chickens, enough for 6-10

Ingredients

  • 1 - 2 3-1/2 half pound whole chickens, pin feathers removed, cavity cleaned and the bird rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 lemon, halved crosswise, and one of the halves cut in half again
  • 2 Seville (sour) oranges
  • 1 Vidalia-type onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 fresh bay leaves, rinsed, central vein removed and the leaves broken up a bit
  • freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cups olive oil

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375º.
  2. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt. Stuff cavity with a lemon quarter, and truss.
  3. Grate zest of the two oranges, and add to the bowl of a food processor. Halve the oranges crosswise, and, holding the halves over a bowl to catch any juices, remove the seeds with a longish knife or the point of a swivel peeler (they can be very stubborn). Cut the orange halves in half again to make it easier to remove the flesh from the peel. Add the flesh to the bowl of the food processor, pulling apart into smaller sections. If any juices were collected in the bowl, strain out the seeds and add juices to the food processor bowl as well.
  4. Juice one of the lemon halves, strain and add to the food processor bowl.
  5. Add next 5 ingredients, cover the food processor bowl, and pulse the motor to puree a bit. Through the feed tube and with the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream until emulsified and the paste has the consistency of sour cream. There will be flecks of green bay leaves--that's o.k.
  6. Set the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan and smear the back, thighs and legs generously with the paste. I sometimes smear some paste under the skin as well. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan and roast about 20 minutes or so to color the underside.
  7. Flip the chicken, add more water if necessary to the bottom of the pan to keep the paste from burning, and roast until the juices run clear, about 165º on a meat thermometer. You can lift the bird with tongs, allowing some juices to drain back into the pan. If they are pinkish, roast a little longer.This may take an hour to an hour and a half or so altogether (including the initial 20 minutes), depending upon the size of your chicken. Keep an eye on the legs; they should remain plump and juicy. A shriveled, dry look or the skin separating from the end joint is a sign the chicken is getting overdone. If the bird is browning too quickly, you can reduce the heat to 350º.
  8. When the skin is nicely browned and the bird looks and smells done and passes all the aforementioned tests, it is done, Remove from the oven and serve.

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Reviews (13) Questions (0)

13 Comments

ChefJune November 17, 2016
I have been wanting to make this ever since you first posted it, but in all that time, I have only ever seen Seville oranges once - and had other commitments at that time. Do you have a limitless supply? Or what do you sub when you can't get them?
 
Author Comment
creamtea November 17, 2016
June, I get them at Fairway in season. I haven't seen them yet, though. But should be in fairly soon.<br />
 
ChefJune November 18, 2016
I'm nowhere near a Fairway. :(
 
Author Comment
creamtea November 18, 2016
Oh, I saw in your profile you're somewhere in the NY area! I see some online sources; but only worthwhile I suppose if you have an additional use for them like marmalade, I suppose! I have tried to make it with regular oranges, but the Seville sour oranges have a special quality in that the zest is so fragrant. I do hope you get to try it, though. Are you in Manhattan?
 
luvcookbooks February 4, 2014
I am saving this right now!!
 
Author Comment
creamtea February 4, 2014
:)
 
hardlikearmour January 19, 2012
This sounds fragrant and fantastic. I saw Seville oranges last time I was at my favorite grocery store. If they are there next time I go, I will pick some up to make this.
 
Author Comment
creamtea January 19, 2012
hla, I hope they're still available. This makes extra sauce, enough for 2 chickens (maybe more!)
 
LE B. January 18, 2012
creamtea, this is so interesting because there are some sibling similarities with my entry for Chicken Lorenza in this same Citrus contest. My onions are grated and applied separately from the citrus juice; yours are pureed together, w/ pulp. Mine sits for a long time; yours does not. I am def going to try your inspiring recipe, once i find those oranges, and i hope you will try mine. Perhaps we will alter our recipes; it would be fun to influence each other! <br /> <br />Come to think of it, I have a lime chili herb paste version of my Chicken Lorenza that I worked out, with bay leaves and chili flakes and thyme... maybe i'll enter it or email it to you just fyi! Thanks so much for this inspiring recipe!
 
Author Comment
creamtea January 18, 2012
Le Bec fin, I'm off to look at your recipe! Hope you can find Seville oranges!
 
LE B. January 20, 2012
i did enter that other chicken recipe. w/ an herbspice paste type thing- take a look! <br />it's the top recipe on my page: <br /> <br />http://www.food52.com/users/40923_le_bec_fin?t=recipes-added-tab
 
Author Comment
creamtea May 1, 2011
thank you, ellenl. I hope you try it.
 
ellenl April 29, 2011
This sounds delicious!