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
up to 2 chickens, enough for 6-10
1 - 2
3-1/2 half pound whole chickens, pin feathers removed, cavity cleaned and the bird rinsed and patted dry
lemon, halved crosswise, and one of the halves cut in half again
Seville (sour) oranges
Vidalia-type onion, diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
cloves garlic, minced
fresh bay leaves, rinsed, central vein removed and the leaves broken up a bit
Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt. Stuff cavity with a lemon quarter, and truss.
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.
Juice one of the lemon halves, strain and add to the food processor bowl.
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.
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.
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.
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.