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Whether in times of need or times of plenty, rosemary grows in abundance along the coast of Istria, where its fragrance perfumes the air indoors and out and adds a festive note to the many dishes in which it is used. Oranges, on the other hand, are not indigenous there, and when I was a child we had them only at Christmas and on a few other special occasions. This recipe (which borrows freely from the French classic canard à l’orange), the traditional Istrian roast chicken with rosemary—as festive a dish as I knew during my early girlhood—is infused with scents and flavors I still associate only with the most joyful occasions of those years.
Split the chickens into halves. Cut out the backbones and remove the breastbones and ribs with your fingers and a paring knife. Blend the salt and pepper, and season the chickens inside and out.
Preheat the oven to 500° F.
Place the chickens skin-side down in a hot, dry 14” ovenproof skillet and brown 5 minutes. Turn the chickens and brown 5 minutes longer, then add the olive oil. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and roast the chickens 30 minutes, turning them occasionally. Remove from the oven, drain off all fat, and add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Place over high flame and cook 2 minutes, frequently basting and occasionally turning the chickens. Transfer the birds to serving plates and spoon the pan sauce over them.
Recommended wine—Roast chicken classically calls for a medium-bodied red wine with balanced tannins and acidity and an elegant style. Any of today’s excellent Chiantis would be my choice here.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
Nutritional information does not include Chicken Stock. For nutritional information on Chicken Stock, please follow the link above.