I don’t cook very often with whole birds. Christmas maybe (remember last year’s Roast Duck) or one or two other special occasions during the year. Otherwise drumsticks are my go-to cuts for curries and boneless chicken breasts are what I use for appetizers.
But two weeks ago, I went to our local supermarket on Friday evening and they had these gourmet, free-range whole chickens on sale and I couldn’t resist.
Cooking with whole birds scares me a bit. It seems simple enough, but different part of the bird cook at different rates and that is always a challenge.
This time I took the easy way out and used a meat thermometer The chicken was perfectly juicy and cooked with the right amount of color on its skin.
I wanted to use mild seasoning for the chicken this time in order to savor the flavor of that wonderful free-range chicken.
I made a Cuban-style Mojo marinade with citrus fruits, garlic, cilantro and cumin. And a little dash of soy sauce for the color.
I roasted it over a bed of onion rings, which cooked in the chicken juices and made the most wonderful accompaniment to this perfect, indulgent Sunday roast.
Tangy, juicy, crispy skinned chicken. Simple yet heavenly. Doesn’t the glorious color on that chicken make you happy? No? Must just be me then
I served it with a simple salad of baby spinach tossed with tomatoes, onion and lemon juice.
Comfort food at its best, don’t you think 😀 And it turned out to be quite easy in the end; makes me wonder why I don’t make it more often…
Here’s the recipe:
Cuban Roast Chicken
1 small Chicken, about 2 kg
1 Orange, zest and juice
1 large Lime, zest and juice
8 Garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dark Soya Sauce
2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds, toasted
2 Tablespoons Oil
1 large Onion, cut into thick rings
Make the marinade: Zest orange and lime and set aside.
Add juice from lime and orange (should be at least a ½ cup total) and garlic to a blender.
Add oil, salt, pepper, soya sauce and cumin. Blend well.
Rinse and truss chicken and place in large Ziploc bag, with the marinade, turning to coat all the nooks and crannies.
Let sit at room temp for one hour, turning occasionally. (Or marinate up to 24 hours in the refrigerator).
In a large roasting pan, place the onion “rings in a single layer.
Remove chicken from marinade and set it aside on a plate or on parchment paper.
Pour all remaining marinade into the roasting pan.
Nestle the trussed chicken breast side down in the pan.
Place on the lower rack of a 220 C oven for 20 minutes.
Turn chicken over, reduce heat to 200 C, and continue to roast until inner thigh reaches 74 C, about 35-45 minutes more.
Let rest 10 minutes before carving.
Serve with the drippings and a green salad.