Well, I am sad to share that we have neared the end of apricot season, but not to worry! Within this post I not only have a recipe for a good ol’ roast chicken, but an apricot habanero jelly that will help you savor the apricot’s bright and springy flavor all year long. And don’t be scared of the habanero, I only used one diced very finely for the large pot of jam, and while it did add the smallest and most trace amount of heat, it mostly just contributed an interesting sweet/sour tang to the jam, much like the flavor of tamarind. Combined with the sweet and slightly tart flavor of ripe apricots, it immediately became my new favorite jam, perfect for smearing on a cracker with a thin slice of white cheddar cheese (which is how me and Jeremy killed an entire 8-ounce jar of it one night while watching Frasier reruns. Yes, I did have a tummy ache afterwards.)
I used the jam as the base for the glaze for this roast chicken, as well as fresh rosemary, apricot halves, onions, and salt and pepper. After roasting, the apricot halves retain their shape until you attempt to cut them, and in that instant they melt into a delicious apricot, rosemary, and chicken-flavored jelly, perfect for spooning over the sliced chicken meat. The recipe for the glaze calls for the apricot habanero jam, but if you didn’t feeeeel like making it (even though I highly recommend that you do because it is glorious!) you could always simmer 8 ounces of store bought apricot jam with 1/3 of a habanero (that’s 1/3 of a whole habanero, mind you, not 1/3 of a cup), finely diced, and several tablespoons of water for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, or until the habanero has softened and jellied.
This chicken was so moist and comforting that I ended up making it for us the past 2 weekends in a row, which was sorely needed since things have been a bit hectic lately with wedding festivities and there’s nothing like a freshly roasted chicken to soothe the nerves. The planning has kicked into high gear and I just finished assembling the illustrations from my friend Jade in Adobe Illustrator for the final invitation printing, which I am really excited about (they came out SO beautifully, I’ll share them once they’re finished!) We also finally got around to picking out all the groomsmen’s suits, and decided to go with a tan linen since it will be hot and the light fabric will help keep the guys nice and cool. Plus, there’s just something gentlemanly to me about a man in a linen suit, (I think it has to do with my mind’s idea of a southern gentlemen…) But regardless, the guys are going to look great in it, especially paired with the dusty shale bridesmaids dresses. I still can’t believe it’s only a little over 2 months away! I’m probably going to be cooking compulsively towards the end to help release some of the stress, so be prepared for a barrage of recipes towards the end of August.
Makes About (3) 8 Ounce Jars of Jam
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon crystallized/candied ginger
1/4 cup apricot habanero jelly
3 sterilized 8 ounce canning jars
To make the jam, bring the apricots, habanero, sugar, lemon juice, and crystallized ginger to a boil over medium high heat in a medium thick-bottomed saucepan. Lower the heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until it has thickened significantly and become jam-like in consistency, stirring every 5 minutes. Pour the jam into the sterilized 8-ounce canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top. Secure the lids as tightly as possible and process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Store the jars in a cool dark place and use within 1 year. Once the seal is broken, keep refrigerated.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by preparing the glazed apricot and onion bed. Mix together all ingredients except the apricots, onions, and water in a medium sized bowl. Place the apricot halves and chopped onion in a roasting pan and toss with the glaze mixture until coated. Spread the onion slices out so that they make a layer on the bottom of the pan and arrange the apricot halves around the edge of the pan.
Now, prepare the glazed chicken. Mix together all of the ingredients (except the chicken) in a medium sized bowl. Generously rub the outside and inside of the chicken with the mixture, gently edging your hands underneath the skin of the chicken breast to get the mixture underneath the skin as well. Place the bird breast-side up in the roasting pan atop the onions and surrounded by the apricot halves.
Stuff with the sprig of rosemary and tie the legs together using a piece of kitchen twine. Pour the cup of water into the pan. Tent the pan with tin foil, ensuring that it is secured and closed on all four sides, but poke a small 1 inch hole in it to allow excess steam to escape. Make sure the tent does not touch the actual skin of the bird (otherwise it will cook onto it and tear the skin off when you remove the foil). This step is very important, because if you do not tent the bird with tin foil, it will brown too quickly because of the high sugar content of the glaze, and while the inside of the bird will still be moist and tasty, the outside will look *quite* crispy.
Place the pan in the oven on the lowest rack and roast for about 1 hour, using a meat thermometer to ensure that the temperature of the chicken breast is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure doneness. Remove from the oven and allow the juices to cool for 15 minutes before serving. This way, the bird retains more moisture, whereas if you carve the bird right away the juices will drain out of the meat more rapidly. Enjoy!