My Neapolitan aunt, an outstanding home cook, was never one for fancy food; her dishes were simple and straightforward, her presentations were always family style, and her only garnish, if any, was some chopped parsley.

While America was rediscovering French cuisine in the 60s, she and I would watch the original Julia Child shows. However, if Julia would demonstrate something elaborate like roasting a pig or cooking swordfish “in monk’s clothing,” my aunt would look askance at the television, mumble something like “che stravagante,” and leave the room.

Well, last night I think my aunt might have had a similar reaction if she were to have been watching me prepare Mark Bittman’s recipe for Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange from The New York Times. It’s not a complicated recipe, but requires repeated braising and rotating the pan every ten minutes to achieve a mahogany-colored bird.

The result was good, with crisp skin and moist meat, but I know if my aunt were still around and watched the preparation, she would have remarked as I did: “non vale la pena” (not worth the effort).

Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey and Orange from The New York Times
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3-pound chicken, giblets and excess fat removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a nonstick roasting pan, or line a roasting pan with a double layer of aluminum foil.

Combine orange juice, honey, cumin, salt and pepper in bowl, and whisk until smooth. Place chicken in pan, and spoon all but 1/4 cup of liquid over all of it.

Place chicken in oven, legs first, and roast for 10 minutes. Spoon accumulated juices back over chicken, reverse pan back to front, and return to oven. Repeat four times, basting every 10 minutes and switching pan position each time. If chicken browns too quickly, lower heat a bit. If juices dry up, use reserved liquid and 1 or 2 tablespoons of water or orange juice.

After 50 minutes of roasting, insert an instant-read thermometer into a thigh; when it reads 155 to 165 degrees, remove chicken from oven, and baste one final time. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Wine Pairing: Chardonnay

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