Bloody Good Chicken

Image of blood oranges

Blood oranges are such a seasonal treat. Tarter than normal oranges, their colour once cut open ranges from tequila sunrise, through crimson to almost black. Scattered on a plate they look like circles of stained glass. Grab some while they’re still in the shops.

Supermarkets, for some namby-pamby reason, have decided we can’t cope with the word ‘blood’ so you’ll often find them under the name of ‘blush’ oranges, sometimes sanguinello (one of their varieties) or even, ridiculously, ‘reds’.

You can imagine the marketing team sitting round the table coming up with that one. ‘We can’t call them blood oranges ‘cos, you know, that’s a bit ick.’ ‘Yeah, but they aren’t just orange oranges.’ ‘No.’ Long pause while they all suck their pens. *Lightbulb moment* ‘I know, let’s call them red oranges!’ ‘Yeah, good one, Torquil, that’s a winner.’

Image of blood orange salad

Whatever name you find them under, try them in this savoury salad, pared of all pith and sliced across, tossed with thinly sliced onion you’ve previously soaked in blood orange or lemon juice to remove the harshness, and a few pitted salty black olives. Dressed with a trickle of extra-virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper and scattered with coriander leaves, it is lovely with oily fish like mackerel and salmon.

Use them in Stevie Parle’s fabulous orange polenta cake (recipe here), in blood orange gin (recipe here) … or give this roasted chicken dish a go. It’s bloody good.

Bloody Good Chicken

Image of chicken and oranges, served


Up to 1kg chicken thighs (1 or 2 per person), preferably free-range

6 blood oranges, 3 squeezed for juice, 3 cut into 50 mm slices

3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

A small bunch of thyme sprigs

1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp maple syrup

Image of squeezed blood oranges


Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

Crush the garlic and mix with the squeezed blood orange juice, olive oil, thyme, coriander seeds, a good pinch of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Marinate the chicken thighs in this mixture for at least four hours, although you can leave it overnight if you’re prepping ahead.

Put the chicken in a single layer in a large roasting tin (too small a tin and it’ll stew instead of roasting) and tuck the orange slices around it. Pour over the marinade and drizzle the maple syrup over the chicken.

Image of chicken ready for the oven

Roast for about 35 minutes, then remove from the oven and strain the juices into a clean pan. Put the chicken and orange slices, still in their oven tray, under a hot grill but not too close or they’ll burn.

Cook for another 10 minutes or so to crisp up and brown the skin and finish the cooking. Make sure the juices run clear when you pierce the meat with a knife. The picture below is taken after the sauce has been reduced and returned to the pan.

Image of cooked chicken

Leave to rest somewhere warm while you skim any fat from the sauce and reduce it hard for a couple of minutes to intensify the flavour. Check the seasoning and serve poured over the chicken. Garnish with the roasted orange slices.

It’s good with spiced roasted root vegetables: I used sweet potato, potato, parsnip and carrot tossed with oil, chilli, cumin and coriander (a teaspoon of each spice for up to a kilo of veg), with fresh coriander stirred through at the end. The chilli is a good counterpoint to the sweet and sour flavours of the chicken.

Image of chicken and oranges sderved with spiced root veg


16 thoughts on “Bloody Good Chicken

  1. Lovely looking chicken Linda. The blood orange is such a transient, it’s good to get the best out of them. You have definitely done this. I am racking my brains for an oriental dish for the Chinese New Year. Why can’t I think of anything?

  2. Hmm. The last time I got blood oranges from the market – last week – there was not a single speck of red within. I feel cheated. But I’m wondering if you think this recipe might also work with Sevilles. I’m sort of thinking it might – or half and half if entirely Seville might be too assertive?

  3. Blood oranges are such a treat! I’ve not tried cooking with them–when I can find them they usually just get eaten or juiced. This has me practically salivating all over my keyboard. Must share this recipe.

  4. That’s a fine dish indeed. It’s a very good way of celebrating the excellent oranges that disappear from the shops all too soon. It reminds me of a dish that I had some years ago as the waves of the Mediterranean rolled in gently on the beach just below the restaurant terrace. Sorry, I got a bit carried away there.

    • Lol, entirely understandable. I can only offer a small, currently rather muddy stream, so rather less romantic. But the spirit of the dish remains sunny and Mediterranean. Thanks! 🙂

Leave a Reply