When life gives you lemons you can make lemonade, but when your neighbor gives you oranges, you can make a three-course meal.
My neighbor recently came into possession of 42 pounds of Florida citrus fruit — the gift of a friend living in the only state not currently devastated by drought or polar vortex. She generously offered to share with me.
These oranges are so fragrant that my hound assumes the universal “feed me” dog posture — soulful eye contact, paws held prayerfully — when any family member begins to peel one.
Since coming into this citrus windfall, I’ve grated orange rind into a dish of green peas, squeezed orange juice into a chocolate pound cake and made candied orange rind, but my favorite dish is a grilled butterflied whole chicken that has been given a soak in an orange-garlic marinade. Technically, the noun for a chicken that is cut up so that it lies flat for cooking is spatchcock. This is a great word, and I’m looking for more ways to use it. Like, “The snow in my driveway is making me dream of lying on the beach at Clearwater like a spatchcock.”
If you don’t have a neighbor with 42 pounds of oranges, there is prime Florida citrus fruit in the grocery through the cold months.
Orange/garlic marinated butterflied chicken
One 3.5 to 4 pound chicken
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
4 cloves of garlic, smashed, peeled and diced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped off
1Ž4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
Some additional vegetable oil for the grill
Remove giblets and rinse and dry chicken. Use a paper towel to grasp and remove any excess fat around the neck or cavity, but don’t remove the skin. To butterfly (a.k.a. spatchcock) the chicken: using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut through the ribs in lines parallel to the spine and on either side of the spine, from neck to tail. Remove the spine. Lay the spineless chicken flat on a cutting board, skin side up and press on the breast to flatten the chicken and loosen the breastbone. Remove the breastbone.
Combine all the marinade ingredients, whisking in the olive oil at the end.
Put the spatchcocked chicken in a one gallon Ziploc bag, and add the marinade to completely coat the chicken.
Refrigerate overnight, or for at least two hours.
Forty-five minutes before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator.
Heat a covered gas or charcoal grill and brush the grate with oil.
Remove the chicken from the bag of marinade and place on the grill skin-side down, with all of the skin in contact with the grill.
Cover the grill and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the skin is crisp and browned.
Flip the chicken to the non-skin side and continue to cook for 15 minutes.
Flip back to the skin side for another 5 to 10 minutes. If necessary, flip again and cook at a lower heat for 5 minutes, or until a thermometer in the thick part of the thigh reads 165 degrees. You can also get good results by cooking the chicken in a broiler pan in a very hot (450 degree) oven, but get the ventilation going, there will be smoke.