Enter another Thanksgiving favorite - a juicy, whole roasted chicken, this time with a delicious homemade orange pepper, thyme and butter. It's surprisingly easy to roast a whole chicken, and just like my rosemary turkey breast - perfect for a smaller Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering.
There aren't many ingredients needed to make a whole roasted chicken delicious. A few spices, some butter and oil and you're pretty much there. I also like to add dry white wine for some acid and more sauciness, but that is completely optional.
- Whole chicken
- Orange juice
- Olive oil
- Dry white wine
- Orange pepper (see next paragraph)
- Herbs like thyme and parsley
Homemade orange pepper
The reason why this roast chicken is the best, is this super easy homemade spice blend. It's just like lemon pepper, just that we swap it for orange for a warmer note, which I think is perfect for the colder months. You can use regular lemon pepper if you don't want to spend an extra hour in drying the spices!
To make orange pepper, zest three medium oranges and whisk together with ⅓ cup crushed black peppercorn, add to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake on 120F (50C) for about an hour or maybe two if the zest was really juicy. I left for the gym and when I came back it was dry! This can of course be done the day before.
Once it's dry, blitz it to fine grounds in a spice grinder or use a pestle and mortar. Mix with 3 tablespoon salt if you want it salty, but this can be omitted if you want to control the salt level when using it in other recipes. It can keep for months in an airtight container.
Tips for roasting a whole bird
There are several tips on how to roast a whole bird, but I'll just cover the most important ones here. If you don't have the same size bird as me (3 ½ lbs or 1.6kg), then a rule of thumb might come in handy. As a rule, the roasting formula is 20 minutes per 450 grams plus an extra 20 minutes, which means a typical 1.5kg chicken will be perfectly roasted after 1 hour and 20 minutes at 200C.
I, however, lower the temperature of my oven to ensure that the meat is super juicy. So I prefer to cook it at 325F (160C). This means it will take a little longer to cook, but not drastically different actually. My 3 ½ lbs chicken was done in 1 hour and 30 minutes. And then I broiled it for about 5 more minutes to get the golden skin.
Another tip to get it super juicy is to baste the chicken halfway through. This means to pour the liquid from the tray on to the chicken. I also do this when the 1.5 hours are up, but before broiling.
Another tip is to leave the chicken out for about an hour before cooking, so that the chicken cooks evenly and you avoid overcooking it. And after cooking, it should absolutely rest for 15 minutes, loosely covered, to redistribute the juices back into the chicken making it the juiciest, deliciousest thing.
You know that a chicken is done when you pierce the meat closest to the thigh bone and see if the juices are clear.
- Roasting formula makes a standard 1.5 kg chicken take 1 hr 20 min on 200C
- However, reducing temp and increasing time results in super juicy meat
- Basting halfway through = more juiciness
- Broiling will give you golden, crispy skin
- Leave the chicken out for an hour before cooking
- Rest 15 minutes
- Done when clear juices
How to carve a whole chicken
So the hard thing about roasting a whole chicken is 1) knowing when it is done, and 2) carving it. I am not the person to tell you how to carve it really, as I always tend to butcher it (pun intended). Anyway, the gist of it is to start running a sharp knife along the chicken thighs and once you feel resistance, bend the thigh outwards so that it cracks out of the joint.
Now it's time for the breast and you should run the knife along the breast cage.
There are also the wings and the wish bone, but that is pretty much impossible to explain with just words. Hence, if you need more help, I can recommend this video of how to carve a chicken.
How I serve it for Thanksgiving
I think Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about having a ton of different tasty things on the plate, making it enjoyable to sit at the table for hours. The way I served it here is with roasted fingerling potatoes and this butternut squash kale salad with wilted garlic kale.
I roasted the bird and when the bird was done and was resting, I added two sheets of veggies to the oven. One with half of it for cubed butternut squash in a cinnamony maple sauce and the other half for the potatoes. The other sheet with the shredded brussels sprouts and chickpeas.
I decided I didn't want to serve it as I normally do, where I mix it all. Rather, I added a bed of garlic kale to a serving tray, with the clementines and roasted walnuts, then the rested chicken.
And as three separate sides: the butternut squash, the brussels sprouts and the potatoes. Everything was so juicy I didn't need any more sauce, but I did serve it with the juices from the chicken baking tray and also the maple mustard dressing from the kale salad.
There you have a fantastic and relatively healthy Thanksgiving dinner enough for 4-6 people! (Or fewer with delicious leftover mmm).
Other sides to serve it with
However, this does not mean that that is the only way to serve this orange pepper chicken. Other dishes that would work really well are:
- jeera rice or just basic steamed rice
- buttery pan fried brussels sprouts
- scalloped potatoes or any other potato dish
- dinner rolls or garlic bread
- Moroccan carrots
- fennel grapefruit salad
- lemony roasted asparagus
- green bean casserole
You could also just head to my side dish category to get the latest updates!
How to make it
Take the chicken out of the fridge an hour before cooking. Remove any excess fat and any remaining feathers. If the cavity is filled with the neck, discard of it. Place it on a baking tray or baking dish and pat dry (1). Pre-heat oven to 325F (163C).
Mix the orange juice, white wine, oil and melted butter together in a small bowl and pour it over the chicken (2), inside the cavity and in-between the skin and the meat (3). You may have to separate the skin from the meat by running your hand underneath the skin. Sprinkle with orange pepper (4), fresh herbs and garlic and give it a good rub on both sides of the chicken (5).
Fill the cavity with the juiced orange half, the two halves of a garlic bulb and fresh thyme (6). Tie the legs together with a kitchen string (7).
Roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a thermometer shows 165 F (74 C) when inserted in towards the thigh (but not touching the bone). Halfway through cooking, take it out and baste the chicken with its juices. You should also do this when the chicken is done.
Once the 1 ½ hour is up, baste again (8) switch the oven to the broiler and put the chicken back in for 2-3 minutes or until golden. Take it out and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes (or longer) while you prepare the sides.
Carve as mentioned above and serve with the prepared sides. Enjoy!
For a little different, much quicker and easier, Christmas dinner - I recommend checking out this Norwegian halibut recipe next. Perfect for small and large gatherings.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more Thanksgiving recipes I think you would enjoy:
- Citrus rosemary turkey breast
- Cheddar herb sweet potato mash
- Garlic parmesan green beans
- Homemade cranberry sauce
- Buttery and crispy pan fried brussels sprouts
- Roasted brussels sprouts with bacon
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