Thursday, October 18, 2012

Orange roast chicken

Here's an easy-peasy recipe that everyone in our family adores: orange roast chicken! I have no idea where I picked up this recipe, but it's definitely a family favorite.

Start with a chicken.

(Well okay, you might want to start with a chicken a little more processed than this.)

Here's a bird we had butchered last year that's been living in our freezer ever since.

I took it out of the freezer and set it by the woodstove for a few hours to defrost.

Rinse and pat the bird dry.

Here's the recipe, a little faded with use. Be sure to preheat the oven to 425F.

The magic ingredient in this recipe is the rub, which consists of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika in whatever proportions you like. We make this recipe often enough that I keep a jar of pre-made rub in my pantry.

Rub the spices over the damp skin of the bird, anywhere there's a surface facing up.

Pop the chicken in the oven -- dry -- for about 20 minutes in order to lightly bake the skin.

Then reduce the oven temp to 325F and about every 20 minutes or so, baste the chicken with orange juice. I like to make the orange juice a little more concentrated than usual in order to heighten the flavors. I also use a fair bit of the orange juice -- up to a quart -- because we all love the drippings. Here I'm using a turkey baster to baste.

It takes about 2 1/2 hours to bake the bird, depending on the size. Toward the end I also make a pot of rice and a vegetable (usually peas).

It comes out beautifully crisp and tender, and let me tell you we fight over the skin.

Don carves.

Normally after we finish dinner, I debone the bird and we eat the leftovers until they're gone. Usually I'll simmer the carcass into stock. But this time I wanted to try something new.

One of the deficits in my extensive pantry of home-canned food is sauces and gravies. I'm fully aware that flour, milk, or oil-based items shouldn't be canned. But there's also no question that sauces and gravies can make an otherwise bland mix of foods far more palatable. The gravy from this orange-roasted chicken is so good -- and it doesn't contain flour, milk, or oil -- that I knew it would be ideal for canning. So I decided to try an experiment.

That evening after dinner, I put the remainder of the unused orange juice, as well as some additional concentrate, into the Crockpot.

Then I took the chicken carcass...

...and added it to the orange juice. I covered it with a generous layer of the rub (salt, pepper, garlic, paprika).

I filled the rest of the Crockpot with water, set it on low, covered it, and let it cook all night long.

By morning, the bones were bare and the contents of the Crockpot had turned into a rich, spicy, orange-y, delicious-smelling broth.

I put a colander over a stockpot and poured the entire contents of the Crockpot through, straining out everything but the rich broth.

(This is what it looked like when the colander was removed.)

I filled eight pint jars with this broth.

Because the broth is meat-based, I took no chances and pressured-canned it as I would any other meat. For pints, this meant 75 minutes at 13 lbs pressure (adjusted for our elevation).

I also canned up a few jars of extra beef broth I had in the fridge, since I had the room in the canner.

By morning the broth had settled in the jars, as you can see.

This experiment was so successful that I will absolutely repeat this procedure every time we have orange roast chicken.

This is how a pantry of home-canned food is built. Not necessarily in dramatic day-long marathons, but in increments. A few pints here, a few quarts there, and pretty soon you've got a decent pantry that will feed your family during hard times.

How cool is that?


  1. So, how will you use the sauces?

    1. Just pour it over cooked rice. Or add a bit of meat and veggies. Or even use it in a stir-fry. The possibilities are endless.

      - Patrice

  2. WAY cool! We're definitely going to try your orange chicken real soon! Yum! --Fred & Deb in AZ

  3. I make a very similar orange chicken. I'm stealing your idea for canning the sauce. This might be good on rice too, eh?
    Love your blog, and I too am canning a bit here and there. Right now I have about 40 pounds of tomatoes ripening in my garage. We picked them 3 weeks ago green as could be. Now 3/4ths of them are ripe enough to can.
    Kris in Nebraska

  4. Do you slice the orange in multiple slices, or just in half? You are so smart, frugal?, who cares? I always freeze left over stock, but if there is no power, it's not much good. Will have to consider this!
    Kelly in K'ville

    1. Actually I normally don't bother stuffing an orange into the body of the bird. I use OJ from concentrate so I can control how concentrated the juice is (plus it's cheaper).

      If you do decide to start canning stock (and I applaud this -- as you say, your frozen stock won't last if the power goes out), be sure to can it in accordance with meat directions, i.e. 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts.

      - Patrice

  5. Thats is very cool and it sounds very good. Thank you for the recipe!

  6. Ha! I made the same thing last night (including broth after dinner was over!) - minus the orange juice baste. I'll have to add that next time. Great idea to can the broth, thanks!

  7. Try stuffing the chicken with orange halves, the meat tastes yummy!

  8. Well done, Patrice.

    I do this type recipe often and have used wild berry juice, fresh ginger, cranberry and black cherry and etc. according to what's on hand.

    I cook it in a covered pot and use the pan to cook the stock the next day. All leftover skin bones and veggies go back in after supper. I add more onion, garlic, celery and so forth and simmer for several hours. (Don't forget the vinegar.) I always have fresh, gelatinous stock in the refrigerator.

    Having a hot, steaming mug of broth to hand someone when they're tired and or chilled can work small miracles of comfort and love.

    Uh oh. Eagles in the yard. Gotta go.


  9. That sounds wonderful! I make similar stock and generally freeze it. I've canned some meat before just reading blogs and canning safety. This fall I'm canning all the venion left in the freezer before we have more. I don't have much confidence in the power grid...

  10. this recipe sounds yummy! I might have to try it when my husband comes home.

    where do you get all your jars from? more people must can in east Idaho, cause even when I go into walmart here in Idaho falls, there is only like one or two cases of jars left on the shelf? Very rarely do I find jars at DI, or other thrift stores.
    I'm proud to say that I have used all of my jars, except about a dozen wide mouths this last month. I don't know if that is a good thing, but at least it shows that I'm trying. my last canning project consisted of 11 quarts of chicken this past Monday.

    anyway, thanks for the recipe of orange chicken.
    your blog is awesome! I referenced you to a couple of my friends on Facebook, about canning bacon!


    1. I keep my eyes peeled whenever I come across canning jars in thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, etc. Twice I've been blessed with a windfall (such as this post: ) but nearly everything else is purchased second-hand. It's taken years for me to build my inventory to what it now is. I'm guessing I have about 2000 jars of various sizes, nearly all of them full. However my youngest brother sent me $50 for my 50th birthday, and I plan to buy five (or so) dozen NEW pint jars because I'm flat out of them and I can't seem to find many used ones in thrift stores.

      So you too should keep your eyes peeled for any second-hand jars you come across. I generally won't pay more than $0.50/jar (which comes in at $6/dozen) for used jars, since if they're more expensive than that, I may as well spend a bit more and get them new when they go on sale at various places.

      Happy canning!

      - Patrice

    2. Shalaee,
      I used to live in Idaho Falls. Yard sales & estate sales are better than thrift stores, but I found canning jars at DI, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, & Bonneville Humane Society. The trick is to look for them at times other than July, August & September. Everyone else is looking for them, too, at those times, & they fly off the shelves. I have also had good luck letting neighbors & friends know that I am looking & what price I will pay, because the more sets of eyes looking, the better the chances to find something. Several times I have also been blessed with jars when helping people move. They get to the canning, & they are tired, & they sort out the "old stuff" (over 3-4 years old) and want to dump it all in the trash. I just told them I'd take it, & they were happy to get rid of it. :D

  11. jars of all sizes up to half gallon can be ordered from lehmans..the prices are good and i have never recieved anything broken or chipped. reuseable and regular lids and rings can be ordered from them as well in regular or huge quantities. the shipping costs are about the same if you had to purchase gas and drive a distance to a walmart or elsewhere.

  12. We have friends who talk about sending chickens to Freezer Camp. :)

  13. How long would you estimate the canned broth/sauce would be good for if kept in a cool/dry/dark area?

    1. Years. I've eaten ten-year-old meat that was just fine.

      - Patrice

    2. Great idea. I think I would probably strip any leftover bits of meat from the chicken carcass, & pack a couple of the jars half full with it, before adding the broth. You're already processing for the amount of time the meat needs, & those little pieces of meat would be wonderful in the sauce over cooked rice, etc. You are so right about building a pantry a few jars at a time, from things others throw away.