Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Sale - 2 Birds In The Oven Are Better Than 1

     I was up early this morning with Baby Girl, and I was thinking about all the food I have in my fridge that I need to cook/use before it goes bad. I recently bought some whole chickens and some seafood because they were on sale. I usually freeze a lot of what I bring home, so that I can have them when they are not on sale, but I guess I was thinking we would eat everything before it went south. (Which I don't know why I thought that, considering that I'm trying to lose weight right now and not eating my usual double-serving portions. That leaves my hard-working husband and handsome man to eat the majority of the food - the girls don't eat that much.)
     So, I decided that today I would cook up what I needed to, and then figure out the rest after that.

. . . . This is how I started this post yesterday morning. Then I opened the fridge and saw the leftover shrimp, so I made Creamy Shrimp and Rice Salad. I meant to cook the chickens yesterday, but ended up needing a quick "dinner in a hurry" option, so it was the Brown Butter Tilapia for dinner last night instead.
    What can I say? Life happens and plans change. But the chicken is getting cooked today!

    I only buy whole chickens when they go on sale. I buy as many as I can and keep the majority in the freezer for when I need them. This particular shopping day, a store had whole chickens on sale and the limit was only two. So, I bought my two and I kept them both in the fridge so I could cook both at the same time. (I had just watched an episode of The Chew that talked about the benefits of having leftover cooked chicken. And I whole heartedly agree.)
    If I'm going to use all the propane to heat up my oven, you better believe I'm going to cook everything I can while it's hot! I'll serve one chicken tonight for a Roast Chicken Dinner, and the second one I'll use for dinners later in the week.

OK enough talking, let's get started. (Forgive the lack of pictures for this post. I really hate having to disinfect my hands and the camera every time I take a shot.)

I can't say this enough during this post. WASH YOUR HANDS after every time you touch the chickens, or anything that the chickens have come in contact with. Use warm soapy water and a good soap. Lather for 30 seconds (sing the ABC's or Happy Birthday slowly). You don't want to make yourself or your family sick!
Get all your non-chicken ingredients ready first. Here's what you'll need:

For the Orange Sage chicken with Honey Orange sauce:

Butter, onion powder, salt, ground sage, granulated garlic, freshly ground back pepper, 1 whole onion, garlic cloves, oranges and honey
For the Basic Roast Chicken:
Butter, seasoned salt, garlic and onion
Also, make sure to get out your roasting pan and set the oven to 350 to start preheating. You want to cut down on cross-contamination as much as possible, so get everything non-chicken done first.

I started with the rub for my Orange Sage Chicken.

Put into a small bowl: 1 tsp each of the onion powder, granulated garlic, salt and sage. Add 1/2 tsp freshly ground back pepper. Mix with your fingers until combined.
Then start peeling and chopping.
Peel and quarter 2 small onions (one for each chicken).
Also Peel a few cloves of garlic (I used 7, but use as much or little as you like. They are used to perfume the birds from the inside out.)
This is the easiest way for me to peel garlic:

Put the garlic clove on the cutting board and place your knife flat on top of the garlic. Give it a little press with your free hand (or whack if it's being stubborn) . . . please be careful!

The peel should come off easily. (I whacked this clove, so it got a little smashed. That's a good thing! It will release more flavor into the chicken.)

Here's your "mise en place" (organized ingredients) for the Basic Roast Chicken - with the addition of the seasoned salt. (I didn't picture that here, because I don't measure it out. I just shake it out from the container.) You'll also want to have some oil or melted butter on hand.

And here's the prepared ingredients for the Orange Sage Chicken - with the addition of the sage rub I made earlier and 2 Tablespoons room temperature butter.

One orange sliced, 1 small onion quartered and 3 cloves of garlic

Now for the messy part:

Take your two chickens. Remove all the innards. (I save the necks for chicken stock and I fry up the livers and hearts in a skillet with some butter, salt and pepper. - I know. It's a far cry from the vegetarian I was in Junior High and High School; but we all evolve. -You can do what you'd like with the innards- throw them away, give them to your cat/dog/what have you, or whatever other creative way you want to dispose of them - but take them out of the birds.) Rinse the birds inside and out, and pat dry with a paper towel.

I put my clean chickens straight into my roasting pan and prepare them there. That way they have less contact with the rest of my kitchen.
The first chicken is going to be my Basic Roast Chicken. No fancy flavors, just simple, yummy chicken.
Drizzle the bird with oil or melted butter and coat all sides (inside and out) with seasoned salt. Then stuff the cavity with your "mise en place" (a peeled and quarted onion and a few cloves of peeled garlic). This bird is done!


Basic Roast Chicken ready for the oven

The second chicken - the one I'm serving tonight for dinner - will be slightly fancier. It's an Orange Sage chicken with a Honey Orange sauce.

Loosen the chicken skin away from the meat of the bird with your fingers. When the skin is loose and you can put your fingers all the way to the back of the breast meat then it's time for the sage rub.
To loosen the skin use a couple fingers and slide them back and forth while gradually moving towards the back of the bird. You'll need to do this for each breast.
Take 1/2 the mixture and rub it all over the breast meat, under the skin.  I used 1/4 rub for each breast.

Then use the remaining 1/2 of the mixture and rub the outside of the entire bird with it.

Take 2 Tablespoons room temp. butter (that you hopefully set aside earlier so you don't have to touch anything else with your "chickeny" hands).
Pinch off small pieces of the butter and place them evenly distributed over each breast, UNDER the skin.

Now take some orange slices and place them on top of the butter, on the breast meat - underneath the skin. (Are you confused yet? . . . Just remember:" rub, butter, orange slices" - all under the skin.)

Put as many orange slices as you can in, while still being able to put the skin back in place. I was able to fit 4 in; 2 on each breast.

  Put the rest of the orange slices inside the cavity of the chicken, along with a few cloves of peeled garlic and a small, peeled and quartered onion.

 Now they are both ready to go into the oven. 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until the thigh meat reads 175-180 on a meat thermometer. (WASH YOU HANDS and clean the kitchen!)

After an hour and 1/2 my Basic Roast Chicken was done, but the Orange Sage chicken still needed some more time (It was a little bigger bird.)
So, I took the Basic Roast Chicken and set it aside on a plate. And put the Orange Sage Chicken back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

 15 minutes later, it came out beautifully.
Now, for the  Honey Orange Sauce:

You want the ratio to be 2:1 orange juice to honey.
I had this much honey left in the jar (1/4 cup) so that's what I used
 Since I had 1/4 cup of honey, I used 1/2 cup orange juice.

Melt about 1 Tablespoon of butter in a saute pan along with the honey and the orange juice. (The sun's going down, so my pictures are getting dark. Sorry!) If you want a more pronounced orange flavor, you could also add 1 tsp of orange zest.

Add a tiny sprinkle of salt (about 1/8 tsp) and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

Continue boiling until the color darkens and it reduces by 1/3. (I started with 3/4 cup honey plus orange juice and I ended with 1/2 cup sauce).

Drizzle over Orange Sage Chicken just before serving.
It was dinner time and I had two children screaming when I was trying to take this shot. It's dark and there are a lot of shadows, but you get the idea.
(Natural sunlight is so much better for taking photos, than a dark kitchen with fluorescent light!)
Here are the recipes:

Basic Roast Chicken

1 5-6 lb chicken
oil or melted butter (1/4 cup or so)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
seasoned salt

Take innards out of the chicken; rinse the bird and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Drizzle with oil or melted butter. Rub to ensure even coverage. Sprinkle seasoned salt over entire bird (inside and out). Stuff cavity with onion and garlic. Cook at 350 for 90 minutes, or until the thigh meat reads 175-180 on a meat thermometer. (The temp will rise a little as it rests.)

Orange Sage Chicken with a Honey Orange Sauce

1 5-6 lb chicken
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons butter (salted), room  temp.
1 orange sliced thin (1/4 inch slices)
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

Mix together sage, granulated garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Take innards out of the chicken, rinse the bird and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a roasting pan. Use your fingers and loosen the skin from both chicken breasts. Use 1/2 of the sage mixture and rub it into the breast meat, underneath the skin. Rub the remaining 1/2 of the sage mixture all over the skin of the entire bird. Then dot the breast meat with the room temperature butter, underneath the skin. Place orange slices underneath the skin, to cover the breast meat (2 slices per breast). Make sure the skin gets put back in place. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the remaining orange slices, the quartered onion and the garlic cloves. Cook @ 350 for 90 minutes, or until the thigh meat reads 175-180 on a meat thermometer. (The temp will rise a little as it rests.)

Honey Orange Sauce

1 Tablespoon butter (salted)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tsp orange zest (optional)
1/8 tsp salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Melt butter in saute pan. Add honey, orange juice, zest (if using), salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce mixture by 1/3. When the color has darkened and it has reduced, turn off heat and allow to cool slightly. Drizzle over Orange Sage chicken just before eating.

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