This Fragrant Baked Orange Rosemary Chicken is not only delicious, it has a charming backstory.
It is from Jamie Schler’s delightful new cookbook, Orange Appeal: Savory & Sweet. Jamie and her husband Jean-Pierre served this chicken at their wedding lunch. She calls the dish Orange Rosemary Wedding Day Chicken, describing it as “the centerpiece of a perfect rustic meal.”
I was smitten with the recipe from the moment I discovered it in the book. Back in my childhood, my mom used to make baked orange chicken. As a Mad Men-era woman, her version was made by spreading frozen orange juice concentrate over chicken parts and baking them until they were done.
I love and admire my mom. Plus I appreciate that cooking really wasn’t her thing. While I was in elementary school she went back to work as a biochemist. Dinner, made after a full day of work, had to be simple. Her own mother wasn’t much of a cook and frozen foods were de rigueur at the time. Still, that chicken dish is not one that I can imagine making today.
Yet, the concept of orange baked chicken is wonderful.
So I couldn’t wait to try Jamie’s version. Just as I hoped, it was scrumptious. Marinated in fresh citrus and rosemary, then lightly fried and baked, the chicken is crisp and moist at the same time. There is enough of the fragrant sauce to spoon a bit over rice, grains or couscous. Jamie encourages readers of Orange Appeal to enjoy the chicken hot or cold. While we didn’t eat the leftovers cold, we enjoyed them re-heated just to room temperature.
Now, to the book itself. (I received a copy of the book gratis from Jamie’s publisher, Gibbs Smith. However, this post and all views expressed are entirely my own.)
Orange Appeal: Savory and Sweet is an orange lovers dream cookbook. Which is to say, it’s tailor-made for me.
As a confirmed orange lover, I can’t get enough of them. I have been known to eat more than one at a sitting, cut into slices or peeled and pulled into sections. When I was pregnant, I never went for pickles. Instead, I headed for citrus, especially navel oranges and sweet, pink grapefruits.
Should I be embarrassed by the number of recipes on this blog that features oranges? I’ve got candied orange peel (two versions – one “regular” and the other spiced), Chocolate Tahini Babka with Orange-Flavored Simple Syrup, and Oranges and Clementines in Syrup, not to mention Yogurt Orange Cake and Bubbly Blood Orange Campari Cocktail. Speaking of oranges and liquor, I’ve spiked the oranges left over from the Spiced Candied Orange Peel and I’ve even got a few savory recipes that use oranges. I’ve even made a tower of chocolate orange cream puffs (called a Croquembouche) using Jamie’s method for forming the puffs without a pastry bag. There are more, but I think you get the point.
Orange Appeal takes oranges into every possible course and type of dish. From sauces, dressings, dips and relishes, through beef and chicken main dishes, all the way to cookies, cakes, candies, and even a homemade Orange Julius that looks and sounds amazing. I want to try too many of the recipes to list. After the Fragrant Baked Rosemary Orange Chicken, I’m heading for two sweet recipes: the Caramelized Orange Cardamom Upside-Down Cake and the Orange-Honey Spiced Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I’ll be making the dressings too. The orange-in-every-type-of-vinaigrette variations call to me, especially the Blood Orange Hummus Vinaigrette.
A final note before the recipe for the Fragrant Baked Orange Rosemary Chicken – Jamie is a marvelous storyteller. Read the introduction for stories of her youth. Then read this touching article about her relationship with her brother Michael, and linger over the dedication to the men in her life, including her brother, who taught her to cook. And if you want to know anything about oranges – from types to how to make them into flavorings, check out the introduction. Then if you hunger for more of Jamie’s evocative prose, head over to her blog, Life’s a Feast.
The ingredients for the Fragrant Baked Orange Rosemary Chicken are simple. I used not-from-concentrate store-bought orange juice and store-bought chicken broth. No shame in those shortcuts.
Fragrant Baked Orange Rosemary Chicken
This herb and citrus-infused orange dish is as beautiful as it is delicious.
- 4 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, cut and with excess skin and fat pockets removed
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 lemon juiced and zested
- 6 sprigs fresh rosemary (3-inches each), divided
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher or sea
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided, for frying
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 small orange, juiced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
- 1 small orange, sliced paper thin
Marinating the chicken
Place the chicken, orange juice, juice from the whole lemon, and minced leaves from two of the sprigs of rosemary, in a glass bowl. Reserve the zest from the lemon. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight (or for 6-8 hours), turning occasionally.
Cooking the chicken
Drain the liquid. Put the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a clean bowl or plastic bag. Mix them thoroughly. Working in batches, lightly coat one or two pieces of chicken at a time. Set the chicken aside on a clean, dry plate.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat half the oil (two tablespoons) in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Once the oil is quite hot, fry the chicken pieces, a few at a time so as not to overcrowd them, on all sides, until well-browned.
Arrange the browned chicken in a single layer in a large, shallow baking dish. Pour the stock around the pieces, not filling the dish more than halfway up the sides of the chicken, then add the juice of the 1/2 orange and 1/2 lemon into the stock. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with the brown sugar and orange and lemon zests. Place the remaining sprigs of rosemary into the liquid around the chicken and set a thin slice of orange on each piece of chicken. Bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked through to the bone and tender.
Jamie suggests rinsing the chicken. I don't do that, on the advice of the USDA and the FDA. Therefore, I have eliminated that direction in the recipe.
The recipe simply calls for oranges, without specifying the type. When I asked her what type to buy, Jamie suggested juice oranges. While I did eventually find them, they are not common in my area (Washington, DC) and they did not provide as much zest as I wanted. (I supplemented with zest from a navel orange.) in the introduction, Jamie says that navel and juice oranges can be used interchangeably and in the future, I'll opt for navel oranges for this recipe.
I decided to speed up the frying process by using two pans. The result is the same and the important point, not overcrowding the pieces as they cook, applies either way.
I used a bit more stock (maybe 1/3 cup instead of 1/4) because we like a lot of sauce. It worked fine and the orange and rosemary flavors still came through well.