Orange-Herb-Bacon Roast Chicken


Chef’s Notes: I’ve roasted very few chickens in my lifetime, and the process was usually an umimpressive and not very tasty “throw it in the oven and cook it” type deal. I was in the supermarket on Friday, and whole chickens were on sale for $1.19 pound. I decided there had to be something I could do with that bird, so I tossed it in the basket.

I studied lots and lots (and lots) of roast chicken recipes. I discovered two basic principles for producing a great roast chicken. One, you put a combination of fat (butter or bacon) and seasoning under the skin. Two, you put a combination of (a) products to provide moisture (some kind of fruit – oranges, lemons, apples) and (b) products to provide flavor (onion, garlic, herbs) into the cavity.

Using those two principles and the inspiration of a hundredsome recipes, I concocted this recipe…and was duly impressed! It smells amazing while it is cooking and it’s flavorful and moist.

I served the chicken with Baked Garlic Sweet Potatoes.

Orange-Herb-Bacon Roast Chicken
Serves about 4

One roasting chicken, about 5#

Remove the innards from the chicken and rinse it. Use your fingers to slide under the skin and gently loosen the skin over the chicken breasts. Cut a small slit at the top of each leg and use your fingers to loosen this skin also.

The under-the-skin mixture

In a food processor, combine:
1 slice of thick-sliced raw bacon, diced
1 T. stone ground mustard
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 T. dried rosemary
1/2 T. dried basil
1/2 T. dried mint
1 tsp. fresh orange zest

Process until it is well-blended and the texture is paste-like. Spread the mixture under the chicken’s skin where you have loosened it, pressing and working it towards the back and so it is evenly over the meat.

The in-the-cavity mixture:

Toss together in a small mixing bowl:
1/2 orange, coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 T. dried rosemary
1/2 T. dried basil
1/2 T. dried mint
1 tsp. fresh orange zest
1 T. balsamic vinegar

Stuff the combined mixture into the chicken cavity.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the seasoned chicken in a roasting pan, cover, and place it in the preheated oven. Cook for about 2 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads between 165 and 175 degrees. Uncover for about the last 30-45 minutes. Remove and discard the mixture inside the chicken, slice, and serve.

I didn’t actually measure the orange zest. I zested the peel on the half an orange used in the cavity mixture, and divided it evenly between the under-the-skin mixture and the in-the-cavity mixture. Also, the herbs I used are just suggestions – you could try just about anything! I love tarragon with chicken, but didn’t have any on hand.

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