Padma Lakshmi’s Chili Honey Butter is so good that if you’ve had it, you know why I’ll say you need a moment to collect yourself, whether it’s the first or thirty-first time you’ve tasted it. It’s not really exaggerating when I say I’d smear it on just about anything. Such a simple, easy non-recipe, and yet, just about as close to perfection as you get in the kitchen.
With that incredible combination of flavors in mind, we went to town on a chicken, adding some pop with fresh oranges, shallots, and garlic and some earthiness with thyme and oregano from our backyard. It’s easy to get bored with chicken and forget just how good a well-roasted, well-seasoned one can be. (Though Ina and Jeffrey are always reminding us in the best way possible.) After all, an over-cooked, bland chicken has just about all the appeal of chewing on a roll of paper towels. But when it’s done right, there’s a good reason why roast chicken is such a perfect go-to meal: Once you have the basics down (and there aren’t many), you can count on them to create a delicious, easy, low-stress meal every time. The fact that chicken is so versatile when it comes to flavor pairings, from how you season it to the side dishes you serve along with it, means that you also have virtually endless meal options using the same foundation.
So, here’s our roast chicken of the week (and many other weeks to come). If you don’t like oregano or thyme, feel free to just use one or the other or swap out entirely for rosemary.
You can let us know what you think of the recipes below! Hope you enjoy.
Chili-Honey Chicken with Oranges and Herbs
To make this recipe a little more healthful, we cut some of the butter in favor of adding olive oil. If you’re really heart-healthy focused in your eating, you could certainly go all olive oil and if you’re all for butter, you can definitely go the other way and replace the oil with more butter.
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*Zest 1/2 tsp of the orange rind, then cut the orange into quarters. Set aside 1 quarter, then cut each of the remaining 3 in half.
*Peel and your shallot and garlic cloves. Quarter the shallot and halve the garlic.
*Finely chop 1 tsp of oregano, thyme, or a little of both and add to a small bowl with the 4 tbs of the room temperature butter, 1 tsp of chili powder, 1/2 tsp of orange zest, and 2 tbs of honey. Mix well. Rub the outside of the chicken with half the mixture and work some under the skin. You can find an opening between the breast and the skin at the edge of the cavity. Gently push to separate the skin more and scoot the butter further down the breast, being very careful not to tear the skin. The skin keeps the meat moist and white meat especially needs all the help it can get.
*Put the chicken in the oven and set your timer to 20 minutes.
*Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter mixture in your microwave at a low power or on your stove. Watch carefully– it happens fast.
*Add the 2 tbs of olive oil and the juice of the remaining 1/4 of your orange. This is your basting liquid. Set aside.
*After 20 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 400° and baste the chicken with the basting liquid, as well as any pan juices that may have started to accumulate. Do this every 10 minutes or so for about 50 minutes, or until the temperature on your meat thermometer reaches 175° when inserted fully into the thigh (but not so much that it hits the bone). The juices should run clear when you cut (a small cut!) between the leg and the thigh.
*When your chicken is cooked, take the pan out of the oven and set the chicken on a serving plate. (Use one with sides or you’ll get juices everywhere). Cover the plate with a tent of foil, making sure the seal the sides, and let rest for about 10 minutes. This will allow the chicken to cook a bit more and will also ensure that it stays juicy. If you carve it right away, the juices will run out and you’ll wind up with dry meat.
*After 10 minutes, uncover the chicken, carve, and serve hot with your choice of sides. If you have leftovers, save them and make an awesome roast chicken sandwich the next day.
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