Sunday, April 3, 2016

Weeknight Indulgence - Roasted Chicken With Orange Tarragon Butter

Me and Chicken, we've got a complicated relationship going. Arguably America's favorite meat, Chicken has just never done it for me. I know, I know, you don't agree - I've heard it all before - but admit it: Chicken needs embellishment to be interesting. Sure, you can serve it slathered in barbecue sauce or bread and fry it, but no one, no one, is going bonkers for a plain old Chicken Breast. And please, don't even think about preparing it skinless (why!?). No matter how good a cook you are, you may as well ask me to gnaw on a piece of cardboard. Really, no thanks. 

In summary, my chief complaint about Chicken is this: on its own, it is just not a particularly flavorful meat. If you don't agree, compare Steak or Lamb, meats that require minimal enhancement to be interesting. Just a little Salt and Pepper and you're good to go. But not Chicken - Chicken needs a little more zhushing. But if there's a silver lining to Chicken's woeful blank slate status, it's that it does take flavor exceptionally well, and when seasoned nicely and prepared with care, it can really be something special. 

Roasted Chicken With Orange Tarragon Butter, Photo: NK 

Today's easy and surprisingly indulgent weeknight dinner is an excellent example of Chicken at its finest. Flavored with a bright, tangy Orange Juice and Zest combined herbaceous notes from the Tarragon ( a favorite herb of mine that has a twinge of Licorice in its scent) it's tasty but understated.

Roasted whole Chicken also incorporates my two other rules for great Chicken:  if you prepare it bone-in, it will always be juicier. The second rule is to leave the skin on, because, hello, that's the good stuff. Even if you take it off prior to eating (why?!!) cooking Chicken with the skin on will make for a moister, more delcious bird. 

Note: This dish has a longer prep time than our normal weeknight meals - it will take about 10 minutes to prepare and an hour and a half to cook, plus ten minutes to rest. You will, however, find that if you can start early enough, the recipe is practically effortless. Barely any prep time at all - maybe five minutes, tops! The Orange Tarragon Butter that makes this recipe so decadent could certainly be made ahead, providing you build in some time to bring it to room temperature. 

Easy Orange Tarragon Roasted Chicken
Serves 3-4 adults 

Orange Tarragon Butter, Photo; NK


One 4.5 to 6 Pound Roasted Chicken, giblets removed and brought to room temperature
3 Tablespoons Salted Butter, room temperature
1 small Yellow or White Onion, halved 
1 large Navel Orange, Zested and halved
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Tarragon plus a few sprigs for garnish
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 with the rack in the middle.

Bring Chicken to room temperature by letting it sit out about a half an hour.

Mix the Butter and Tarragon together in a small bowl. Add all the Orange Zest and the juice of half the Orange. Mix again until well incorporated. It's ok if some of the Orange Juice remains separated.

Stuff the Chicken's cavity with the two Onion Halves and/or the other unjuiced half of the Orange. Place the bird in a roasting pan. 

Season the bird liberally with Kosher Salt and Black Pepper. Next, cut a hole into the skin just above the neck, so that you create a pocket between the skin and bird. Carefully pull the skin up from the body as you stuff it with some of the Orange Tarragon Butter, smooshing it around as best you can. 
Finish by coating the outside of the bird with all the remaining Flavored butter. 

Place in the oven on the middle rack and roast for about an hour and 20 minutes (for a 4.25 lb bird) to an hour and a half (for a large bird), basting several times with the pan juices. Place the Chicken on a platter and pour the pan juices over it. Serve with orange slices (from the second half of the Orange) and sprigs of fresh Tarragon. 


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