Mandarin Orange Ginger Roast Chicken

During the Christmas season, the flavours of mandarin oranges are one of the best flavours. As I mentioned in a previous post, it has a lot to do with childhood nostalgia. Fun with my family, part of my stocking from Santa, the mandarin orange is as equal a part of the season as chocolate, big family dinners and Santa.

While putting together this dish, I thought of how to maximize the flavours of both the ginger and orange. The obvious choice was to grate the zest of the oranges and fold them into softened butter with finely grated fresh ginger. The juice’s acidity could wreak havoc with texture so I opted to only place the orange halves inside the cavity and in the roasting tray for subsequent finishing flavour. Another flavour boost of thickly sliced fresh ginger in the cavity also added to the heady orange perfume permeating throughout.

Finally, my gravy, like any other roasted poultry gravy involves puréeing the vegetables from the bottom of the roasting pan with more chicken stock and thickening it. With the flavours built up from the orange and ginger, the gravy was an absolute flavour bomb.

This was a great “roast beast” so to speak for a small Christmas gathering, but would be a great Sunday dinner anytime with regular oranges or even clementines or tangerines.

Mandarin Orange Ginger Roast Chicken:

1- 2.3 kg/5 lb whole roasting chicken

1/2 cup softened, unsalted butter

2 large mandarin oranges (or 4 small ones. Or 3-4 clementines)

2 Tbsp finely grated, peeled fresh ginger

1/4 cup fresh ginger, cut into thick slices

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

2 medium carrots, roughly chopped

2 medium parsnips, roughly chopped

2 cups chicken stock + 1 cup water

   Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

   In a small bowl, blend together the butter, grated ginger and zest from the oranges. Halve the oranges. Place two halves in the cavity of the chicken along with the sliced ginger. Rub the flavoured butter under the skin and over the entire chicken. Scatter the roughly chopped onion, celery, carrots and parsnips over the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the other two halves of orange nestled amidst the roasting vegetables. Add the stock and water. Tuck the wing tips under the chicken. Tie the legs together. Place on the roasting vegetables. Roast in the preheated oven for 75-90 minutes, basting every 15-20 minutes with the juices from the bottom of the pan. Remove from the oven. Transfer the chicken to a tray to rest for 20 minutes.

   To prepare the gravy, pour the roasting vegetables and juices to a blender. Purée until smooth. Pour the purée into a large pot. Add 2 more cups of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Blend together 3 Tbsp butter with 3 Tbsp of flour until a thick paste forms. Whisk this paste gradually into the puréed vegetable-dripping mixture. Bring back to a simmer and cook through until thickened. Squeeze in the roasted orange halves, if desired. If not, leave the orange halves for garnish to add to the cut chicken on the platter. Serves 6-8.

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