Roast Chicken with Citrus

Here’s a well-kept secret: A roast chicken is always an impressive meal. It fills your home with heady smells, looks great on the table, and pleases all ages.–Susie Cover

LC Orange Chicken Note

No, this isn’t the sort of orange chicken that you find on Chinese takeout menus that comprises battered and fried chicken chunks drenched in a gloppy, cloying sauce. This is the sort of orange chicken that’s an easy, aromatic riff on roast chicken with lemon and will have both you and your family clamoring for it again. No lie. And unlike its sadly Americanized Chinese counterpart, it’s bathed in a smooth, silken pan sauce. The recipe makes a gracious plenty of this thin gravy, so spoon it over rice, potatoes, polenta, or whatever you choose to serve on the side.

Roasted Chicken with Citrus Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 2 H, 40 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small orange, preferably organic, quartered
  • 1 lemon, preferably organic, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) chicken stock (store-bought or homemade)
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, or as needed

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • 2. Pat the chicken dry inside and out. Season the inside with 2 teaspoons salt and the pepper. Place as many of the orange and lemon quarters, garlic cloves, and herb sprigs in the cavity as will fit. Cross the legs one over the other or tie them together with kitchen string to hold the contents inside. Tuck the wings underneath the chicken as if it was putting its arms behind its head. Squeeze a lemon quarter over the the chicken and rub the juice into the skin, then sprinkle the chicken with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 3. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan. Toss any remaining orange and lemon quarters, garlic, and herb sprigs in the pan. Roast until the chicken’s juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a fork or an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F (71°C) when inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the size. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • 4. While the chicken rests, pour 1 cup stock into the roasting pan and stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Strain the pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan and place over low heat. Add the butter and the remaining 3 cups stock and swirl the pan gently until the butter melts. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the flour over the liquid and whisk until it dissolves and the juices have thickened a little, 3 to 5 minutes. If a thicker sauce is desired, sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, or more as needed, and whisk again.
  • 5. Squeeze the juice from the orange and lemon quarters into the pan and cook, stirring, until the juices have thickened a little more and are glossy, about 5 minutes. The pan sauce should be thinner than a gravy and just lightly coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the chopped thyme. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (You’ll have ample pan sauce, but it’s lovely spooned over rice or potatoes or virtually anything else you can think to put on the same plate as this citrus roast chicken.)
  • 6. Carve the chicken and arrange on a platter. Serve with the warm juices on the side.
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Larry Noak

Apr 24, 2013

This chicken will make you a star with very little fuss or time. I really enjoyed this recipe, as did my entire extended family. Filling the cavity with citrus and herbs lent itself to a very flavorful and wholesome roast chicken. I’d suggest using a bit less chicken stock unless you’ll be making 2 chickens or wish to have some for a later meal. You’ll probably need 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour, if you do make 4 cups of pan sauce. You may wish to make the sauce in a skillet over a large burner to help it thicken faster. This roast chicken is a definite winner and will be a regular on my table whenever I need to impress friends or family.

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Vicki Lionberger

Apr 24, 2013

Somehow the title of this recipe just doesn’t do it justice, as it’s one of the best roast chicken recipes I’ve ever made or eaten. It took me a very long time to find the roast chicken recipe and my poor husband had to endure some embarrassingly rubbery (not cooked enough) and/or rubbery and dry (overcooked) dinners. Finally I found a method from Patricia Wells and it was the gold standard by which all other recipes were judged until now. This recipe is easy and required no exotic ingredients. The instructions are straightforward. I used a 4 1/2-pound kosher chicken and didn’t brine it first. I followed the instructions for stuffing the chicken and roasting it. Mine was a perfect 165° (we like poultry a bit more done) in 2 hours and 15 minutes. The sauce was easy to make but it did make a very large quantity. I think the amount could be reduced by half and there’d be plenty. The bird was moist and well seasoned with just a hint of citrus. Loved it! The sauce was tasty again with the citrus being subtle but adding great flavor. We’ve a new winner. By the way, since there are only two of us we had leftovers. The sauce, thinned with water, made a fantastic base for chicken soup with miniature dumplings. An added bonus!

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Kim Beaulieu

Apr 24, 2013

I’m a huge roast chicken fan so any time I find a new way to cook it I’m always game to try. I really liked this version and found the recipe easy to follow. The pan sauce recipe with it was easy to make, which for me is fabulous as gravy isn’t my forte. I did find the pan sauce a little too citrusy in flavor though. That might just be a personal thing. I find a little citrus goes a long way, but I know so many people like to use more of it than I do.

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Bette Fraser

Apr 24, 2013

The chicken was perfectly moist and tender. Waiting was the toughest part, but the reward was worthwhile. Squeezing lemon juice over the skin is a brilliant idea and I sprinkled it with Himalayan sea salt.

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Anna Scott

Apr 24, 2013

This recipe’s author is right on—a roast chicken is the perfect dish for any occasion when cooked properly. Crisp, golden skin and tender meat seasoned to perfection…that’s exactly how this chicken turned out. I’ve made many a roast chicken, always secretly rating them in my brain and remembering which ones turned out best. So far, I’d say this one is my favorite. It took me 1 hour and 45 minutes to cook it to an internal temp of 160°. I loved the addition of orange segments and juice in this recipe; I think it really added a nice taste to both the meat and the skin. My only suggestion would be that you really don’t need a pan sauce with this particular roast chicken! The flavors of the crisp skin and tender meat are enough. The pan sauce was good, but I’d think about just concentrating on this delicious chicken and not covering it up.

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Sita Krishnaswamy

Apr 24, 2013

This is an absolutely flavorful, moist, and above all, easy roast chicken. The herbs and the citrus flavors marry very well and the kitchen is filled with a fragrant aroma. The recipe yields a lot of gravy for 1 chicken; it might be worthwhile doing 2 or having mashed potatoes on hand. I used a 3-pound organic chicken. It took about 1 1/2 hours in my oven.

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Helen Doberstein

Apr 24, 2013

This recipe makes a very nice roast chicken. It’s a good basic go-to recipe that’d serve anyone really well. My chicken was about 4 pounds and was fully cooked after 1 hour in a small convection oven. Had it gone for the 1 1/2 or 2 hours it would’ve been seriously dried out. Since ovens can vary so much I’d suggest that when making this recipe the chicken be checked with an instant-read thermometer after the 1-hour mark to prevent it from being dry. We weren’t all that keen on the citrus overtones in the pan sauce, and it was thinner than we would’ve preferred. All in all I’d certainly make this chicken again, just use my own recipe for the sauce.

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Brenda Carleton

Apr 24, 2013

Go buy the best free-range chicken you can get your hands on, and make this hen. You’ll be happy you did. We had a wee 3 1/2-pound chicken that was begging to be used in this recipe. The aromatics in the cavity flavored the meat from the inside, perfuming the house with a gobsmackingly wondrous scent that only roast chicken can give. I loved, loved, loved how the lemon juice rubbed onto the skin and then sprinkled with salt gave an oh-so-subtle citrus note. Cooking it to 160° and resting 10 minutes resulted in a perfectly moist, juicy, and tender chicken. My husband and I tore off the skin as though we’d been starved for a few weeks. It was picture-perfect (well, before we attacked it). Come to think of it, we were going to take a picture but before we knew it, it was too late. When we cut into the meat, it was so moist that juices literally squeezed out. Then came the pan sauce. Ooh, joy! The sauce made from the orange and lemon juices and thyme was bursting with deliciousness. We could hardly stand it, it was so good. We kept just saying, “Oh, man. Oh, man.” Not overly intelligent sounding, I know, but it was almost enough to make us weep. Part of the reason it was so great, in my opinion, was roasting it in a cast-iron skillet, which we usually do. The low sides allowed more of the skin to crisp up and we all know what a wonderful job cast iron does in roasting. Neither of us could think of a single thing we’d want to change about this recipe. It was seasoned perfectly. The carcass made its way into a delicious chicken noodle soup for tomorrow’s lunch. Then it’s all over [sigh].

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Pat Francis

Apr 24, 2013

Citrus, garlic, and herbs contributed to a lovely roast chicken. My chicken was about halfway between 3 and 4 pounds. I loved the flavor the orange imparted. I usually use lemon with chicken but can’t recall using orange. Two different thermometers told me that the chicken had passed 160°F, but there were still some spots near the joints that weren’t completely cooked. The chicken hit this point just an hour after going into the oven. I left it in a little longer just because this seemed too short a time, and there were still undercooked spots after another 15 minutes in the oven plus resting. I’m not a huge fan of gravy with chicken, but this pan sauce was better than most.

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Linda Pacchiano

Apr 24, 2013

This is a very good roast chicken recipe. I roasted a chicken that weighed almost 5 pounds, which took a full 2 hours to get to 160°. The chicken was very flavorful and remained moist in spite of the long roasting period. There was quite a bit of liquid in the pan at the end of the roasting period and so I only added 2 cups of stock, which made just the right amount of pan sauce. Had the pan been very dry, I probably would’ve used the full 4 cups stated in the recipe. I suggest degreasing the roasting liquid before proceeding to make the gravy. I used an extra tablespoon of flour to get the pan sauce to the correct consistency. I’m not sure why this recipe said to keep the pan on low heat since the sauce needs to be brought to the boil after the flour is added or it will not thicken. We very much liked the subtle flavors of orange, lemon, and thyme that permeated the chicken and sauce. This recipe will easily serve 4 people.

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Renee H.

Apr 24, 2013

I love roast chicken. I love the warm and inviting aroma that invades my home while roasting a chicken. I love the oohs and ahhs from my family that replicate the oohs and ahhs during Thanksgiving—and all because I roasted a 5-pound chicken. I’m a glory-seeker, and roast chicken brings the glory. The flavor of citrus mixed with fresh herbs was divine, the meat tender and flavorful. The sauce took more than 20 minutes to thicken up so next time I plan to cut back on the amount of chicken stock, but otherwise, this was a Sunday dinner superstar!

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Kristen Kennedy

Apr 24, 2013

This was a very close second-favorite chicken recipe of all time. The recipe creates a moist, tender chicken with a deliciously flavorful pan sauce. And it’s quite simple—no basting or hands-on time while the chicken is cooking. Will definitely be adding this to my repertoire!

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Connie Lewis

Apr 24, 2013

The chicken is delicious and juicy. All the things you stuff in the cavity infuse it with subtle favors. The sauce is less successful. Things I’d change with the recipe: 1) Tell people to pat the chicken dry before roasting. This may be obvious to most people, but some people will get a chicken in plastic that’s very wet and not know to rid it of the moisture. 2) I used 2 teaspoons of salt, and I thought this was plenty. 3) If you don’t either heat the 3 cups of chicken stock or turn up the heat a lot when you add the stock and butter, it’ll take the butter a very, very long time to melt. 4) You need to use more flour (maybe 3 to 4 tablespoons) to get the sauce to the right consistency.

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Trudy Ngo-Brown

Apr 24, 2013

This is a simple recipe with minimal prep time and uses basic ingredients but produces a VERY moist and flavorful chicken. I used a chicken that was just under 5 pounds and the cavity was full with the citrus and herbs. There was way too much pan sauce, even though I had a larger bird, and I had to add 3 more tablespoons of flour to get it thick enough to coat a spoon. I served this with a gratin dauphinois, but had there been mashed potatoes, we probably wouldn’t have had so much left over.

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Suzanne Fortier

Apr 24, 2013

What’s bad about roast chicken? So simple, so good. I usually rub a cut lemon over my chicken, but I was curious to try the addition of orange, and it really was quite lovely. The citrus flavor is subtle on the bird itself, but really gives the pan juices a nice zing. I might squeeze both lemon and orange over the chicken skin next time. I used 1 teaspoon of dried thyme inside the cavity, as I didn’t have any fresh. My 5-pound chicken took exactly 1 1/2 hours and was moist and juicy. I couldn’t resist throwing a pound of baby potatoes into the roasting pan about 30 minutes before the end of cooking. I had a hard time putting so much butter into the gravy, which I made with frozen Thanksgiving turkey stock, and I could’ve done without it. The recipe makes copious amounts of gravy, but to my taste, the concentrated citrus-flavored pan juices were much tastier.

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Sue Epstein

Apr 24, 2013

This recipe makes an excellent roast chicken. The hint of orange and lemon together with the thyme and rosemary gave it a delicious taste. One tablespoon of flour wasn’t enough to thicken the gravy even slightly but this is an easy thing to fix. The only caveat is that I’d recommend stirring the flour into a tablespoon of cold water and then adding it to the gravy so you don’t get lumps. Other than that it was perfect and a recipe that I’ll certainly use again.

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M.K. Morgan

Apr 24, 2013

This recipe produces a juicy, flavorful bird very easily. I had never used an orange in a roasted chicken—I liked the sweetness it provided. The gravy needs work—too much chicken stock, too little flour. That’s an easy adjustment.

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Karen Depp

Apr 24, 2013

The roast chicken part of this recipe is an A++. Wonderful, crisp flavors from the citrus and garlic as well as the rosemary. The crisp skin is the perfect counterpoint to the succulent, moist, and lightly fragranced meat. Those delicious flavors carry over to the pan sauce as well. I made the recipe exactly as written and I got a lovely citrus- and thyme-flavored stock, not a gravy. It tasted grand, but just didn’t quite perform as a gravy. The next day I took the pan sauce and added about a 1/4 cup of flour and a tablespoon of cream and then voila! Gravy. All in all, I’d correct the pan sauce recipe—or rather I’d ask someone who knows about such things to correct it—like 2 tablespoons of fat/butter to 2 tablespoons of flour to 1 cup of liquid? That sounds better and probably accounts for the result with my 1/4 cup of flour. At any rate, a 10 for the chicken and the adjusted pan sauce!

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Sofia Reino

Apr 24, 2013

The hardest part of this recipe was to fill its cavity with all of the requested ingredients, but the final taste was a nice roasted and juicy chicken, filled with aromatic flavor. My whole family loved how juicy and tasty it was.


Comments
Comments
  1. Katie K says:

    1.5 to 2 hours? That’s an awfully long time.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      It is a long time, Katie K. And it works. We tested it over and over and over, as you can see from the comments below….

  2. Stu Borken says:

    This looks wonderful and I’m certain it fills the house with a fantastic aroma. It’s a “patchka” however. If you don’t know what that is, ask someone Jewish. Why not just put the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan seasoned like you said. Put the broth in the pan with lemon and orange slices, extra thyme and rosemary stems, butter and maybe mixing in a little flour and when the chicken is done the sauce is done too. You just need to press a fork down on the citrus and you have extracted the essence of the lemon and oranges into the sauce. I would buy a roll of polenta and serve that as a side or maybe buy a nice Kishka and slice it up into 1 inch slices and spoon the sauce over that….a little bit of heaven. I am making this dish either tonight or tomorrow night.

  3. Stu Borken says:

    To Brenda C., is it wise to cook an acid broth, lemon and orange, in a cast iron vessel?

    • Larry Noak says:

      I’m thinking that the citrus, herbs, etc., would ensure that roasting in cast iron would not be a problem, that is, causing a pronounced metallic flavor. If the concern is the added iron intake and cardiovascular issues, the occasional use of citrus in iron is probably negligible. That being said, middle-aged men probably will not wish to do it every day….

      • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

        Yeah, I think you’re probably right on all counts, Larry. A little citrus in cast iron is, I dare say, probably safer than simmering tomato sauce for hours on end in cast iron. And yet, as my dear dad says, everything in moderation….

  4. ruthie says:

    I roast chicken all the time and will have to give this a try. I can almost smell it! I usually butterfly my chickens because they roast faster that way. I put any flavor augmentation, in this case citrus, underneath the chicken with a little broth. Excellent pan sauce and chicken in one pan. Am I lazy? You bet. ;)

  5. Alejandro says:

    It reminds me of the chicken they roast here in Colombia. It´s delicious. I reckon this is something different but I just wanted to let you know that there´s a great popular Gourmet in every-corner Colombian restaurants.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Love it, Alejandro, thank you. Gonna do some research and see if we can’t get a Columbian roast chicken on the site….

  6. Nicholle C. says:

    I have never roasted a chicken in my life – until yesterday. I made my first roast chicken using this recipe – and then I promptly went out and purchased the cookbook. The chicken was perfect – moist, delicious, crispy skin – I couldn’t get over how easy it was! I had to laugh when I caught my husband sneaking a piece of chicken from under the foil while it was resting – this is a guy who only eats chicken in the form of over-processed nuggets. In his words, “this chicken kicks ass.”

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