Monday, February 13, 2012

Orange O'Brien-Stuffed Roast Chicken

Walmart had whole chickens on sale for 69 cents a pound today, so I got one. I used a $10 Walmart gift card that I earned through MyPoints to buy it, so the chicken, vegetable oil, cocoa powder and cola I bought today were essentially free. I didn't have any stuffing mix or rice, so I decided to create something new. The result was this beautiful chicken, stuffed with orange-infused O'Brien potatoes.

Orange O'Brien-Stuffed Roast Chicken photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012

For this recipe, you will need one whole, five-pound chicken. You will also need coarse sea salt, olive oil, the juice and peel of one or two whole oranges, one whole onion, about 6 cloves of garlic, some paprika, black pepper and about one cup of finely-chopped fresh parsley.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012
I chopped the parsley and minced the onion and garlic, then set them aside for later. I rubbed the chicken with olive oil and sprinkled the body cavities and the skin with coarse sea salt. You can omit the salt if you are on a sodium-restricted diet, but you should double the orange juice to ensure that your chicken remains flavorful and juicy.

The chicken marinated in the salt, oil and juice for about 30 minutes while I made the potatoes. I show it uncovered on the counter, but you should cover it with foil or plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator while it marinates. I turned it over three times while it marinated. Each time I turned the chicken, I rubbed the juices all over the skin, including under the wings and in the folds of the leg.

I grated the zest of one whole orange and set it aside to mix into the O'Brien potatoes later.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012

One orange yields about 1/4 cup of orange zest and 1/4 cup of juice. A single orange gives the chicken and potatoes a subtle, pleasant taste and scent. Use two oranges if you like stronger orange flavor, or if you have to omit salt.

Orange Zest, Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012

I chopped the potatoes into 1/4-inch thick, 3/4-inch cubes. I deep-fried the potatoes using a blend of vegetable oil, but you can oven-fry them if you are on a low-fat diet.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012
I covered the unused burners with metal pot lids, so that the oil would not splash all over the stove. Burner covers would have been nicer, but I'm too much of a tightwad to buy them.

I poured 40 ounces of vegetable oil into my 6-quart stockpot. I heated the oil on medium-high heat for about five minutes, then tested the oil by dropping a small piece of potato into it. The first piece did not sizzle enough, so I waited two more minutes before adding the potatoes. To prevent sogginess, I added the potatoes 1/4-cup at a time, making sure to drop each scoopful in separate places in the pan. I waited a minute, then used my metal serving spoon to loosen the potatoes from the bottom of the pan, which prevents scorching and clumping.

I lined a colander with paper towels and placed it on a ceramic serving plate, so the potatoes could drain between batches. Once all five batches cooled enough to handle, I put the chicken on a clean serving plate and dumped the potatoes, chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped parsley and the orange zest into the glass baking dish and mixed them with the juice, oil and salt from the chicken marinade. I added another teaspoon of coarse sea salt, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of paprika and 2 teaspoons of black pepper, tossing everything by hand until well-blended.

I mounded some of the potatoes in the middle of the glass baking dish and placed the chicken on top, breast-up. I stuffed the main body cavity with some of the potatoes and mounded the rest between the chicken and the sides of the baking dish. Although you should select a baking dish that is two inches longer and wider than the meat you intend to roast for best results, I am too much of a miser to buy additional baking dishes. The one I use is 15 inches by 18 inches, just big enough for a 15 to 16-pound turkey or the five-pound meat loaves I like to make. When I make anything smaller, I just surround it with quartered potatoes, chunks of vegetable or a heap of rice.

I roasted the chicken for an hour and a half at 350 degrees F. The result was juicy, tender and flavorful.

To make a vegan version, substitute tempeh strips or tofu for the chicken. Drain a block of tofu into a mixing bowl, leaving the tofu in the container. Place a folded paper towel on top of the tofu and apply slow, even downward pressure until the tofu is about 1/3 thinner than when you started, without applying so much pressure that it cracks or smashes. Pour off any resulting liquid into the same mixing bowl and reserve it for gravy base. Pour the orange juice into the container with the tofu and press the tofu down again, then release pressure. The juice will draw up into the tofu block. Turn the tofu over and repeat to ensure that the juice infuses all the way through. If you use tempeh strips, just soak them in the orange juice. Pan-fry the potatoes first, then pan-sear the tofu or tempeh for best results.

Special thanks to my friend and fellow freelance writer Colleen De Koning for reminding me to include the vegan option in this recipe. :)

Check out "Made from Scratch Monday" by Mary Hudak-Collins for more allergy-free recipes.

Monday Meals

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