Brown Sugar Orange Lacquered Chicken for #citruslove - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Brown Sugar Orange Lacquered Chicken for #citruslove

January 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Posted in Dinner, Fruit, Poultry, Vegetables | 73 Comments
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First I want to clarify (although I know 99.9% of you know this), the following Orange Lacquered Chicken does not contain real lacquer, or any stain or shellac.  Nor does it contain any substance you might find at Home Depot.  I wanted to roast a chicken with orange flavor, and after many bastings with orange goo, the skin tuned a beautiful burnished color, and I think lacquered is a great way to describe it.

I couldn’t find my big platter, so I stuffed everything onto this medium dish.  It really wasn’t served this way…a lot more carrots and potatoes behind where this photo was taken.

The first thought that came to mind, was a chicken dish by Rick Bayless, basted with his red mole and agave syrup, that looks similar after being roasted.  He calls it Lacquered Chicken because it looks well, lacquered – not unlike a door, floor, or piece of furniture you all probably have at least one of in your homes.

Great, I’m comparing chicken to lacquered wood.  I bet that’s really juicing up your appetite!

Thing is, there are people who actually do use not food safe lacquer, stains and all kinds of liquid substances that will probably poison you.  These people are professional food stylists.  Ever see those pictures of perfectly, deep golden brown turkeys on a beautiful platter with lots of fixings, smack in the middle of a Thanksgiving table, not a burnt spot or flaw to be found?  Ever wonder why that look is almost impossible to achieve ?  Because, although it’s a real turkey, you cannot eat it.

I usually truss before buttering or oiling, but I wanted to show the butter in every nook and cranny.  So, the wings got cut off in the buttering photo – and this was the only collage I liked.  Oh, well.  Just truss and reach in and underneath where the wings are folded and tied down, to distribute the butter.

I always found that to be a waste, especially with all the starving people in the world.  Take a perfectly edible turkey, roast it until it’s nice and brown, then slather it with wood stain and Minwax super gloss clear finishing lacquer to give it that lovely, burnished, flawless appearance.  YUM, pass the compound and sandpaper, please!

I guess they trash the poultry once they get the photo they need.  Change that ‘I guess’ to ‘I hope’.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, my chicken contains none of the above, and look at the lovely crispy, deep, golden skin.  No, it’s not perfect, and you won’t see it on one of Norman Rockwell’s holiday tables, but it’s completely edible and delicious!

For this month’s love bloghop, the theme is citrus.  I had sweets on the brain, orange sticky buns, individual lemon charlottes, orange chocolate chunk cookies of some sort, etc.  After picking up an organic chicken a few nights ago my plans changed.  I was craving roast chicken, so why not an orange roast chicken?  I still had sweets on the brain, so the cookies were made, and the finished brioche dough for sticky buns is resting in the fridge as I type this.  I will be posting both, but once this chicken came out of the oven, it got the job – I knew this was going to be my #citruslove.

To start, I made an orange compound butter to massage into the chicken, on top and underneath the skin…mostly the breast because thighs and legs don’t take kindly to their skin being pulled away and stuffed.  They tear in protest if you go too matter how gently, so I usually do the best I can.  This means the fat part of each drumstick ends up with a glob of butter, herbs or whatever, smack in the middle, which has to be massaged on the outside of the skin to cover as much of the meat as you can.

SCREEEECH! Hold on!…Time to segue.  As I type this, feeling no flow whatsoever, completely disjointed, discombobulated – I’m realizing how boring all of the above is.  Last week I received an email from a reader…

“Why aren’t you as funny anymore?  You used to crack me up.  Are you ok?”

There’s too many answers to that question, and that was part of my response to her.  The rest “I promise it’ll return, just not in a great place, or flowing at the moment”, with a huge smiley emoticon at the end –> :)

Maybe I should just post my food photos with poetry, or songs?  I’ve heard some of the best of both have come during ‘down times’.  How about a Haiku?

Oh lacquered chicken
How beautiful thy skin is
I want your drumstick

OK, maybe not.

It’s really tough to get a good photo when everyone is begging to eat.

Back to the boring writing chicken.  I wanted to infuse a good amount of orange flavor into it since I’ve had plenty of orange roast chicken where you could barely taste the orange, so I layered – I layered like I do my skin when I get out of the shower – the body oil of the scent I plan to wear, the powder of scent I plan to wear, then the actual cologe or perfume.  Orange compound butter inside out, oranges stuffed in the cavity, orange lacquer (I really love calling it that) – a few herbs, seasonings, and other stuff to contrast and enhance, and we’ve got popping orange flavor, but not in an overpowering way.  Not to mention, this chicken was juicier than Violet Beauregarde, pre – dejuicing room.  

Shit, I’ve got nothing today, so I’ll stop here before I continue to bore and embarrass myself.

As I mentioned above…January is #citruslove month!  Please join in on the #citruslove fun by linking up any citrus recipe from the month of January 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to stop by the #citruslove (the hashtag) event on Twitter!

A shout out and thank you to my co-hosts for #citruslove;

A Little Bit of Everything, Astig Vegan, Baker Street, BigFatBaker, CafeTerraBlog, Cake Duchess, Cakeballs Cookies and More, Easily Good Eats, Elephant Eats, Food Wanderings, Georgiecakes, Hobby and More, Mike’s Baking, Mis Pensamientos, No One Likes Crumbley Cookies, Oh Cake,, Peaches and Donuts, Savoring Every Bite, Simply Reem, Smart Food and Fit, Soni’s Food for Thought, Teaspoon of Spice, That Skinny Chick Can Bake!!!, The Art of Cooking Real Food, The More Than Occasional Baker, The Spicy RD, The Wimpy Vegetarian, Vegan Yack Attack, Vegetarian Mamma, You Made That?

Please visit their blogs to see all the delicious #citruslove they created!  OH, and of course – the linky!  I’ve been rather involved with the linky’s lately, huh?  Well, it’s just one click below to citrus porn!

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Brown Sugar Orange Lacquered Roast Chicken

1 5 lb organic chicken
Orange Butter (recipe follows)
2 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs thyme
Cut up oranges (use the ones you squeezed for the juice, plenty of orange flavor left in them)
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Orange Lacquer (recipe follows)

Orange Butter
1 stick (4oz) unsalted, room temperature butter
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Orange Lacquer
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 6 to 8 navel or navel sized oranges.  Save the squeezed orange halves to stuff into cavity of chicken)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 scant tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 large clove garlic, chopped very finely – almost paste consistency
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (regular sesame oil is fine)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Grate all the zest you will need in this recipe from your oranges, then split them in half and keep squeezing until you get 1 cup of juice.  Set aside zest and juice.

2. In a medium bowl..stir together the butter and one tablespoon of orange zest until creamy and uniform. Set aside.

3. Remove giblets and neck from chicken, then rinse under cold water inside out.  Dry thoroughly.

4. Rub some of the orange butter all around the inside of the cavity, then salt and pepper it liberally. Stuff with all the herbs and as many orange halves as you can fit into the cavity.  Truss the chicken.  THIS is the method I use..quick and easy. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

5. Rub the rest of the orange compound butter all over the chicken, inside and out, lifting the skin where you can without tearing, and sliding some in – placing the skin back down and pushing it around on top of the skin until it covers most of the meat.  Throw any leftover compound butter into the cavity (the hole is still big enough to get it in even though it’s trussed). Salt and pepper the outside of the chicken, liberally.

6. Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan.  Pour a little chicken stock or water on the bottom of the pan, if you like.  Easier clean up, and gravy, if desired, although this chicken doesn’t need it.

7.  Place roasting pan with chicken in the preheated oven.  Roast for 1 hour.  Check every 20 minutes to make sure it isn’t burning in spots.

8. While chicken is roasting, make orange lacquer.  Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan, except the sesame oil.  Cook over medium heat until the brown sugar is disssolved, then bring to a boil, stirring.  Let it reduce to almost half of what it was.  It won’t be super thick when done, more syrupy.  Stir in sesame oil.

9. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Paint the lacquer all over the chicken, getting into every nook and cranny with the brush.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Do this every 10-15 minutes for a total of 35-40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F.  If desired, cook/boil down (reduce) remaining orange lacquer for a sauce, making a slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken it, if need be.

9.  Remove from oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes (this is when you should take photos if you’re a food blogger lol ).  Carve and enjoy!  I served mine with glazed carrots and smoked paprika roasted potatoes.

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  1. Love the disclaimer at the beginning of your post :-) I’ll definitely have to check back for the recipe because this looks incredibly delicious, lacquer and all! Happy to be hosting #citruslove with you!

  2. OK – so the writing might be a little disjointed but that chicken… ooooh… so worth the wait! I am definitely making this recipe… er…. when you post it. :)

  3. Lisa, a beautiful chicken there, I bet it was really tasty with all that orange permeating it! You are still funny, I’m not sure I would know how to take that if one of my readers asked that. No worries for me since I’m not really funny on my blog in person is a different story though :). I do hope you are well though too. Hope you have a great week.

  4. Looks delish and I want to make it, well once you post the recipe! Give a call when you have the time, haven’t chatted in ages. Hope all is well.

  5. A great looking looking citrus chicken even if it lacquered. The potatoes and carrots also make my mouth water. Your photos show the artist you truly are :)

  6. Haha no lacquer at all? You are too cute :) And I love that haiku-because it expresses how I feel-I want a drumstick! :D

  7. That chicken looks amazing! Its skin is beautiful.



  8. Wow this sounds amazing!! And gorgeous, perfect for the season!

  9. Looks quite lovely, love the photographs. That nice all black background really seems to make your dish stand out. :D

  10. You even manage to make a roast chicken look spectacular! This looks mouthwateringly delicious! Love the orange flavor

  11. Holy yum! LOVE it! This is a lovely addition to the bloghop! Your pictures are lovely!

  12. DAYUM!!!! This looks amazing!

  13. I want to crawl thru the computer screen and bring that chicken home for dinner!

  14. Oh, gosh, this looks amazing, Lisa! The dark lacquer is PERFECT (I had a pale roast chicken last night…tasty, but not nearly as beautiful!). Great #citruslove post!

  15. sweet baby jesus in a manger and holy fuck!!!!!!

    that looks amazing, that takes food porn to the next level……

    seriously lisa, I need to go take a break, smoke something, do something, I don’t know, that just left me speechless and longing…. kudos to you my friend!

  16. Don’t you just love the honesty of commenters?

    That is an awesome recipe and an equally awesome photo. I was looking for the potato recipe in there too. Those look deliciously roasted!

    • Thank you, and Jess is a hoot! lol That said, the potatoes were put together without any measured amounts, but I’ll post what I did here and in your comment section.


      I had 6 leftover baked potatoes from the night before in the fridge. Peeled them, cut them into rough cubes – tossed them in a foil pan with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. I put them in the oven (350F) on the rack below the chicken, and after 20 minutes, they weren’t crisp and golden to my liking, so 5 minutes under the broiler, watching, with a toss or two. That’s it :)

  17. oh man, that looks really good! And no trip to home depot, perfect:)

  18. I heard of motor oil to make everything shiny, yuck!

    The skin color on that bird is beautiful!

    I’d better check the other blogs, I love citrus!

  19. Lisa: We can’t be up all the time.
    Take it at your own pace, and don’t pressure yourself.
    Praying for you.

    This looks so awesome!!
    It looks perfect!!

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Thank you for the lovely comment, Charlie!!

  20. I am makng this next weekend..just reading through the ingredient list made me hungry..I can’t wait to try it

  21. Ha, ha, ha, your blog title clever! I love everything about this dish. I’ll have to try it with oranges, I always use lemon for my chicken. The orange butter sounds fantastic too. Visiting from #citruslove bloghop!

  22. Never thought I would call a chicken gorgeous, but this one does. Yummy!!!

  23. Well I still think you are funny and I hope the slump goes up soon still for you. What no shellac? Yeah I have a book of food styling, it is INSANE what they do to food for the sake of photography. Your chicken does look absolutely fantastic.

  24. that’s a nice looking bird!

  25. Lacquering chicken, Great! Waxing poetic………maybe not so much. Longfellow, you ain’t.
    When I try to printed the recipe, comments printed as well. Can you fix that?

    • Nope…I ain’t a poet, but I can roast a chicken lol As for the printing deal, I’m not sure free wordpress allows just recipe printing, but I’ll check on it. In the mean time, highlight the recipe then right click on it and select print :)

      • Thanks checking and for your reply.

  26. Oh, THAT is beautiful! In your faces, food stylist chicken destroyers.

    As for the other thing: you always make me laugh, but I hope you’re okay or at least feel okay very soon. xxx

  27. Amazing orange chicken recipe! Love it! Thanks for sharing the citrus-love with us!

  28. Wow Lisa, this chicken looks delicious, perfect color and perfect flavor. I just can imagine the forks and knives ready to go down to the chicken while you are taking the pictures :-)
    Have a great day!

  29. Wow,what a beautiful roast chicken!Absolutely love the looks and I’m sure it was extremely delicious!Glad to be doing Citruslove with you :)

  30. Well, you still seem pretty funny to me! :) Your chicken looks absolutely beautiful, actually the whole platter of food does! Count me in! You’re amazing!

  31. Look at this gorgeous chicken! This is my kind of dinner and I love the orange. Yum.

  32. so simple and it looks delicious

  33. Ok, that chicken was just too gorgeous not to leave a comment! :) In the short time I’ve been reading your posts I’ve always been left with a smile, and even if you’re not side-splitting 24/7 (who could be?) you have a kindness of spirit that shines through. Hoping that reader was well-intentioned…

  34. love the disclaimer part.. the laquer did come out nice! Citruslove to u!

  35. Your chicken looks absolutely gorgeous! I think it’s such a shame that so much food gets wasted in photo shoots, although I know a lot of stylists now encourage people on a shoot to eat what they style and don’t mess around with ingredients as much as they used to. The citrus in this sounds lovely – perfect to add a little zing into January!

  36. I hope everything is ok!

    This chicken looks absolutely gorgeous and the flavors sound wonderful. Much better than the usual roasted chicken.

  37. Looks amazing, really beautiful colors. And thanks for the clarification:) I will save the lacquer for other purposes, not for basting chicken!

  38. My mylordy, that is the most beautiful roast chicken I have ever seen! I love orange chicken, and my family will go nuts for it! Question, is it ok if I use light soy sauce instead of dark in the glaze?

  39. I made this last night! Sent a photo to your contact email! It was gorgeous and the flavor was crazy good!! So juicy too! Thank you so much for this recipe, Lisamichele!

  40. Wow… that is a show stopper! Lacquered is putting it nicely! The color is gorgeous!!

  41. This looks absolutely delicious! And I had to laugh at your disclaimer at the beginning! Gorgeous photos – they look like they belong in Bon Appetit!

  42. This is so creative. Roast chicken is good…but this looks amazing! Thanks for detailed info on tussing…I’m no pro and need a reminder!

  43. Looks delicious!

  44. ha ha no ingredients found at Home depot. You’re so funny!
    Sending some #citruslove your way!

  45. Hi Lisa, Love making & eating “orange chicken”, though I don’t think I’ve made it this way… “lacquered orange chicken”. Looks wonderful!

    PS About Ravini Greek Dessert – so very good & worth it. Search GH mag site for the recipe or Google it. There are plenty of worthy recipes out there – go for the one that is from a greekster ;) enjoy!

  46. Well, I for one am always entertained when I come here!And I usually leave feeling hungry… (It’s dinner AND a show! Well, dinner photos, at least…) That lacquered chicken looks incredible! Bookmarked!

  47. Loved your haiku! ;) I think that lacquered is the perfect way to describe this chicken, sending some citruslove your way!

  48. I don’t know about that reader, but this post had me giggling all the way through the comments (Jessica!too funny). But let’s talk lacquer…I never knew that that’s what they do! I’m so naive. Your lacquered chicken is gorgeous and edible:) rock on #citruslove :)

  49. I think… I think.. I think… I might just be able to finish the whole chicken by myself…. mmmm….

  50. Now, this is certainly much loving dedication to one chicken. I feel incredibly lazy prepping my bird next to your masterpiece ;o)
    The citrus was certainly well respected and I can only imagine how fabulous that first bite can be. It’s not even 5 A.M and I’m thinking chicken for breakfast!

    A small aside:
    Lisa…I sure do hope that email didn’t ruffle your feathers too much…cuz, no matter what…you’ll always entertain me ;o) Actually, I’m surprised someone would actually make you that comment no matter how concerned they could be. Oh well…just my tiny opinion ;)

    Have a great weekend,

  51. Oh, your roasted chicken looks beautiful!! I agree with you, I am not impressed with food stylists as of late. Yes, their photographs are beautiful, but its so fake! No one is about to eat it, there isn’t a hungry mob standing around them with forks and knives, everything is just too fake. This orange chicken, however, looks utterly delicious, I wish I had a drumstick right now!

  52. Gazing at your gorgeous chicken over my morning coffee has my stomach rumbling! You lacquered it up real good! Glad you went with a savory for #citruslove :)

  53. That chicken looks amazing!! You’re making me feel really hungry. I like the way you write and I thought it was a good post. It’s been fun co-hosting #citruslove with you. This is the first savoury recipe I’ve seen for #citruslove – great choice!

  54. Your appetizing chicken dish is truly superb, amazing & appetizing!

  55. Perfectly beautiful dark glowing skin…and it sounds yummy, too.

  56. This is exactly how a roast chicken basted with anything fruit or sugar based, should be. Nt only beautiful to look at, but I can tell how juicy it is from the sliced photo. That platter COULD be in a Norman Rockwell painting!

  57. This is one of the most entertaining blogs out there, no matter what kind of mood you’re in! I always giggle at the very least when reading your posts. That chicken looks fantastic–I would have stripped the skin off and eaten it in the kitchen. Bad host, me. Now I wonder how many people are using that glaze to shellac their furniture? Hope 2012 is a great year for you!

  58. I love the word lacquered, but simply adore shellac:-) I mean who would want to try a Shellac Chicken with loads of CitrusLove, LOL!!! My husband loves chicken, he would love this recipe, it looks soooooo delicious:-) Hugs!

  59. Loved reading the post :) The chicken does look really gorgeous!

  60. Lacqured is the perfect word for the process. Your chicken looks straight out of a food magazine. So much time, effort, attention and love went into it that of course it has to taste heavenly.

    • I meant Lacquered, sorry I can’t spell :)

  61. Wow, that chicken truly does look lacquered. AND amazing! And even your “boring” writing is never boring. ;)

  62. Wow Lis- my husband would leave me for you over this dish!
    Hope you had a nice holiday season- I was in NY for 6 weeks enjoying the warm weather!
    Best, Sandie

  63. You really received that email? Well, maybe she lost her sense of humor because I always find you hysterically funny! And ooooh gross… I cannot imagine anyone would have to actually smear furniture stain on a bird to get it looking, well, as stunning as yours. It is amazing – a gorgeous color and such juicy meat! I can only imagine how delicious and orangey it is! Perfect work of art!

  64. I would be begging to eat that chicken too! It looks absolutely amazing… I can’t believe the gorgeous color you got on it – that too, sans the lacquer! :) Yummy! I am so bookmarking this and making it soon! Love it to bits… Thanks so much for sharing!

  65. How can you say that’s not perfect? It looks amazing! I’m hankering for some of this citrus love ;)



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