Plucky Mole Roasted Chicken

Much has been written on the perfect roasted chicken, but I do believe this one comes very close: moist, deeply savory meat with crisp, salty skin, with almost no effort at all. The key is finding prepared mole at your local Mexican grocer; all of the ones I frequent sell tubs of dark brown, thick, Oaxacan style mole that is just perfect to spoon under the skin. You could, of course, make the mole yourself, but when it’s this good and this easy, why bother? We especially like the chicken from Plucky, available here at the market.

Ingredients

1 whole young chicken, preferably organic, about 3 pounds
3 tablespoons prepared mole, available at Mexican grocer’s
1 orange, cut into quarters, for stuffing
drizzle of olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Process

Preheat oven to 400, rinse off the bird in cold running water, and dry it thoroughly with paper towels, including inside the cavity. Set it breast up on a roasting pan outfitted with a rack.

Gently separate the skin (see note below). Spoon the mole under the skin – aim for maximum coverage. Stuff the orange quarters into the cavity, and rub the entire chicken with olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper, and roast for roughly 35 minutes. Look at it occasionally to make sure the skin isn’t burning (if it is, make a little tent with aluminum foil for it). Increase temperature to 425, remove it from the oven, flip it over (breast side down), and roast for another 30, 35 minutes or so, or until it’s become deeply browned.
Remove and let it rest for 15 minutes. Carve as you like, squeeze the baked oranges over the meat, and salt and pepper to taste.

Separating the skin:

With the breast side up and using your fingers, very gently begin to pull the skin away from the meat, inch by inch. I sometimes use a small sharp pairing knife to slice the muscle that holds the two together, although with enough patience this can be done with the fingers, too. The idea is to completely separate the skin from the meat, so that it’s simply laying on top. You want the mole mixture to cover the meat, and the skin to act as a “lid” – the fat will begin to render, mix with the sauce, and continually self-baste the meat.

Recipe provided by Eric Gower.