Test Kitchen Notes
Citrus and chicken go together like a dream—and this recipe, starring refreshingly sweet-tart navel oranges from California and a spatchcocked bird, is no exception. Those bright, citrusy flavors are the star of the chicken’s marinade, while the toasted spices (fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and black pepper) bring depth and complexity; the eight cloves of garlic in there become nutty and fragrant during the roasting process.
Of course, every chicken needs a starchy sidekick, which is where the crispy fingerling potatoes come in. They’re roasted right next to the bird, along with thick wedges of fennel, so they soak up all those magical drippings as the chicken cooks. For serving, top the roasted chicken with navel orange zest (so aromatic) and a pinch of the spice mix, and nestle big navel orange wedges around the serving platter.
This recipe is shared in partnership with California Citrus Growers.
- Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- Serves 4 to 6
whole black pepper
California navel oranges, zested and juiced
cloves garlic, finely minced into a paste
extra-virgin olive oil, divided (plus more for brushing the chicken)
whole chicken (about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
Diamond Crystal kosher salt
fingerling potatoes, cut in half longways
medium fennel bulb with fronds attached
- Toast and grind your spices: In a cast-iron pan (or any heavy-bottom pan), toast the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, and black pepper over medium heat, stirring often until fragrant, but not burnt or smoking. Grind the toasted spices in a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder. We’ll use this spice mix throughout the recipe.
- Prepare the chicken marinade: In a heavy-duty zip-top bag, combine the zest and juice of the Navel oranges, 1 tablespoon of the spice mix, the minced garlic paste, and 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
- Remove your chicken from its packaging and dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Turn the chicken breast-side down, and using a sharp pair of poultry shears, cut alongside one side of the spine to separate it from its ribs. Repeat on the other side of the spine to fully remove the spine. Flip your chicken breast-side up, and use the palm of your hand to press in the middle of the breast bone, flattening the chicken.
- Coat the chicken generously with kosher salt until the chicken is fully covered, about 1 tablespoon per pound of chicken. Add your chicken to the marinade, squish it around, and allow to rest in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight for better flavor.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- For the fennel, separate the fronds and stalks from the fennel bulb, reserving the fronds for garnishing later. Trim the bottom of the fennel bulb and split down the middle. Then cut each half into 3 wedges.
- On a rimmed sheet pan, dress your fingerling potatoes and fennel wedges with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a large pinch of kosher salt, and a pinch of the spice mix. Toss to coat.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and dry with paper towels. Focus on making sure the skin side has as little moisture as possible. Place the chicken on the rimmed sheet pan and arrange the potatoes and fennel around it.
- Brush the chicken skin with extra-virgin olive oil and place in the center of your oven, roasting until the chicken registers 150°F in the thickest part of the breast, about 45 minutes.
- Remove chicken from the oven and allow to rest on the sheet pan for 15 minutes. Top with navel orange zest, a pinch of the spice mix, and serve with navel orange wedges.