When I say the best, I mean it. This was one of the best roasted chickens I have ever made (and had) and it happened by accident. If you haven't made my sheet pan lemon rosemary chicken, then you should also probably check that out. But what came to be for this recipe was me thinking I had lemon in my fridge, and when it got time to season the whole chicken, I realized, I was very very wrong. A mistake I'm not mad I made.
When I have the time to roast a whole chicken I love to do it. I don't typically do them during the week as it can take a while in the oven, depending on its size, but on a weekend night, or a day I'm working from home, I will roast like no ones business. It was that weird week between Christmas and New Years, which really messed up my grocery shopping schedule, and little me forgot that I didn't have any lemons. Or even bottled lemon juice for that matter. But what I did have, was one beautiful orange left. And that changed the game.
I started first by zesting that orange and mixing it up with some Pure Blends Avocado Butter. You could just as easily use olive oil or ghee. Then -preheat your oven to 450 degrees. We won't be cooking it at this temp, its just to shock the skin to get crispy, and we drop the temperature immediately upon putting the chicken in down to 375. I also like to give my chicken a quick rinse and pat dry before I dress it - mostly because it helps that skin to get crispy and absorb up the yummy seasonings instead. Also, now is a good time to remove the giblets if they're in there.
Then, carefully put your fingers under the skin of the chicken (breast side up) just so that you can make a pocket. The skin can tear easily so just take your time. Once separated, glob up your butter and orange zest mixture and spread it under the skin. Load her up because this is what makes the skin taste so good. Then take your desired seasonings, the juice from that orange and a little olive oil and season both the outside an inside. The amount will vary depending on the size of your chicken - but I like to stick to salt, pepper, garlic and onion. I also have this Butcher's Blend sea salt by a local company (Newport Sea Salt) that's a nice mix of everything that this time around I used all over. I like to cook mine in a cast iron pan as it helps the bottom crisp up a little as well. But you can always cook in a roasting pan with onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, you name it in the same pan. Because I was making a whole bunch of veggies (for leftovers) I opted to just do the chicken in the cast iron and my veggies on the side. Either way, you'll want the juices that end up in the bottom of that pan so do not pour them out. Don't throw out that squeezed orange either, stuff it into the bird and tie the legs together with twine.
Place the oven, THIGHS TO THE BACK, and immediately drop the heat to 375 degrees. Thighs take longer to cook, so if you put them in the back, the hottest part of the oven, it'll cook the whole chicken more evenly. General cooking rule of thumb: 20ish minutes per pound of chicken, and you want your thermometer to read 180 degrees when its ready to eat. This guy was just shy of 4 pounds, and took around an hour and twenty minutes to cook. If you don't have a meat thermometer I strongly encourage you getting one. It takes the guessing game out, and you don't have to slice up your meat to see if its ready (which is totally savage AND dries the meat out..)
When its to temperature, take out of the oven and let her rest! She needs about 10 minutes of rest time before you cut so that it doesn't get dry. This is a good time to take the chicken out of the pan and make gravy with the drippings (Another reason why I love using the cast iron, because its a one stop shop to make it and not dirtying another pan.) A tab of butter, 3 tablespoons of flour, whisk it to make a funny looking paste at medium high temp, then pour in about 2 cups of broth or almond milk and quickly whisk. Season how you like your gravy and lower temp to simmer to the thickness you like. The best part about this gravy? Its got hints of orange running right through - which I LOVE.
And don't forget - when you're done with the chicken meat, save the bones and make some stock or some soup - no waste here!
THE BEST Orange Herb Roasted Chicken (GF/DF)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes in the oven per pound of chicken (4lb = 1hr20min)
Zest and juice of one orange
2 tablespoons butter, olive oil or ghee
Seasonings of choice: salt, pepper, garlic, onion, etc. 4lb chicken I had 2 tablespoons total
If making gravy: 1 tablespoon butter, 3 tablespoons GF flour, and 2 cups broth or almond milk.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place in pan.
Mix in small bowl zest of one orange and butter. Carefully separate skin from breast of chicken and put butter mixture evenly under it.
Squeeze juice of orange all over chicken. Then drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil outside and season - this will vary depending on the size of chicken you have.
Place orange inside cavity and tie legs together.
Place in oven, with thighs to the back, and roast for 20 minutes per pound. Basting every 20-30 minutes.
Remove from oven when meat reaches 180 degrees and let rest for 10 minutes. (Remove from pan and place on cutting board if making gravy)
In same pan to make gravy: at medium to high temperature, melt 1 tablespoon butter and whisk in flour to a gritty paste.
Pour in broth or milk, and whisk quickly, lower temp to simmer and season and reduce to desired consistency.
Serve and enjoy! Save the bones to make broth or soup!