One of my 2012 resolutions is to cook my way through Peggy's book, Simple Soirees, a James Beard winner and beautifully photographed by Christopher Hirsheimer. This chicken caught my eye a while ago, particularly the combination of port and orange juice used to add delectable flavor to the bird. I thought I had port, but a house visit by a child of mine rendered me port-less, as I discovered this evening; however, I persevered and made a substitute of dry sherry, as well as half and half for the sauce. This recipe produces a succulent, juicy bird with wonderful yet simple flavor. I roasted vegetables in separate baking sheets placed just below the bird. Alas, I did not think to photograph the dish until it was half eaten. Peggy calls this a "Romantic Dinner" in her book, and I tend to agree. —Bevi
Sprinkle the chicken generously with the salt. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to cook it. Take the chicken out of the fridge and bring to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large Dutch oven or oven proof skillet, warm the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Brown the chicken breast side down for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown for another 5 minutes.
Place the skillet in the oven and roast the bird for 45 minutes, uncovered and untouched. Then, pour the port or sherry over the chicken and baste. Roast for 10 minutes.
Add the orange juice and baste. Roast for 5 minutes. The chicken is done when the thigh juices run clear. i had to roast my chicken for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven, and cover with foil while you make the sauce.
Deal with the pan juices. Remove as much fat as you can, and then add the half and half or cream to the pan juices, and cook over medium heat, stirring up the crispy bits. Add about half of the orange zest, and reduce sauce to about 2/3 of the original amount. Season with salt and pepper to your taste - I did not need to add any seasoning.
Carve the chicken and spoon a little sauce over the slices. Sprinkle the remaining zest on top. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.