Bella's Chicken for Company

By • April 18, 2016 2 Comments

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Author Notes: I may have mentioned my Bella, my bubbe a few times she was an enthusiastic cook, she made quite possibly the worst chocolate chip cookies of all time,though her cole slaw, apple cake & applesauce with plums were legendary.

And then there was this recipe, the chicken that she'd make the first night Sandy was home from California, or for Rosh Hashanah, or Seder (Seder would be a rather loose interpretation of what happened it was more like here's some matzoh hurry up the soup's getting cold, though to be fair they were communists - they didn't have much patience for religion, but boy did they love a parade).

I have made one small change- that is brining the chicken in pickle juice before marinating it- and I'm almost 100% positive that had Bella known you could do this she would. Now that I think about she always bought kosher chicken, which would have been salt brined already.

This chicken is great cold, warm hot, even after sitting for a few hours in a kitchen that maybe is so hot one would think there was a portal to hell in one of the cabinets. The ideal accompaniment is Bella's Cole Slaw, and Waks' Kasha varnishkes-- that is if you want a glimpse into my childhood-.....

Make sure the room is about 110 degrees, there's ceiling fan on full blast and a small table fan also on high blast blowing right into your ear, the breeze from the fan will not abate the heat but it will be so strong that you'll have to tuck your napkin under your your thigh. The table should be covered in an flowered oil cloth and it should be a little too small so you are always bumping elbows with your brother, the dog should be under the table, she's big enough to trip anyone who gets up much to the dismay of your grandmother who has already accidentally tripped over the dog, who is larger than she is. The doorbell should ring at least 2x and the phone should ring thrice-at least one time it will be some fehkacta meshuga from the place (no one will know what place), one of the visitors will be Danny (Danny was in the camps, he escaped and was part of the Israeli resistance- we think)- Danny will bring a large block of government cheese or a carburetor or maybe a hairdryer he will have a private conversation, then do a shot of slivovitz with your grandfather he should pinch your cheek before disappearing back into the night. The meal should start with matzoh ball soup with lots of fresh dill and finish with apple cake, green grapes, blueberries and cantaloupe and the table should radiate love with a nearly audible ferocity.


Serves 4-6

  • 1 quart pickle juice- a good sour pickle - not too salty-not a sweet one or a garlic dill
  • 1 4-5 # chicken cut in 8-9 pieces i cook the back because its my favorite part ( you can opt for an intact bird- just adjust cooking tims)
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 or 2 Oranges
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
  • 1 bunch Scallions
  1. Brine chicken pieces in pickle juice for about 8 hours or overnight- include the back & neck if you are, like me, a bone person
  2. Remove from brine & pat dry, Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper then place in a large Ziploc bag or a deep bowl. (For crispier skin let sit skin side up on an uncovered cookie sheet for 24 hours before marinating)
  3. Squeeze the juice from the orange(s) into a non–reactive bowl. Chop the remains of the orange into 8 pieces - add to bowl. Add the ginger, garlic and soy sauce.
  4. Warm the honey slightly, you want it to mix easily into the other ingredients not clump on the side of the bowl (you can microwave for 15 seconds or so. Whisk together. Pour marinade over chicken and let sit at least 3 hours but more than that is OK; marinate up to 24 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange chicken skin side up on top of the scallions in baking dish. Pour all marinade and orange pieces over top. Roast for 30 minutes until the skin is blistered and has just a tiny bit of dark spots, then lower heat to 350 and bake for another 30-40 minutes until the temperature of the thigh reaches 160. Also super delicious grilled, not that Bella would have grilled anything like ever, but I have and so has my Dad and it was really quite good.
  6. These are approximate cook times. Watch carefully while on high heat. If it starts to brown too quickly, lower the heat (the honey will make it burn quickly).
  7. I like to slip the liver into the pan, brush it with some marinade then take it out after about 10-12 minutes and eat it quietly in the kitchen by myself, I also forage the Pupkis before anyone knows it was there and use the neck as a "tester", just to make sure its good--Other things that have found their way into this recipe at one time or another: fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, Dijon mustard, lemon, red pepper flakes.
  8. ( a simplified version with a similar taste is my Dad's version-- that I call 70's Divorced Dad Chicken- mix together- 1 juice glass OJ, 15 soy sauce packets, 10 duck sauce packets, 2 mustard packets then marinate and roast or grill)

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