Last week, we made a quick visit to Florida. Since this winter turned the sunshine state into the sunny-yet-freezing-state, we didn't expect that beaches will be on the agenda. This visit was primarily to catch up with family, and a short break from the Minnesota winter. For, even though Florida was unseasonably cold, Minneapolis in January is simply ungodly!
A great blue heron treading lightly next to an Everglades alligator.
It turned out that we did have time for some sightseeing: a quick trip to the Everglades. At the visitor's center, the guide suggested the Anhinga trail for first time visitors. A short, flat path takes you around ponds and marshes that are full with birds and, yes, alligators! It was incredible how much wild life was visible in that short trail. Incredible, too, was how close the alligators were to the mere-two-foot rail that guarded the path. Incredibly unsettling! My question is: what in the world prevents them from crawling onto the path? I'm sure there was nothing to worry about and that park officials had already taken that into account but the wimp in me was unsettled nonetheless.
Getting a close up view of the park's most popular animal.
On the drive back to the turnpike, we stopped at Robert Is Here, a ranch-like fruit stand studded with signs of tropical fruit, quirky sayings, and historical tid-bits of the original owner. From the road, it didn't seem that there was more than a variety of oranges but as we entered the shed-like structure and my eyes had time to readjust to the lighting, a mound of brown appeared on my periphery. Could it be? A favorite fruit from my childhood? It was! Sapodilla. A soft, oval fruit with a thin, brown skin and sweet, almost custard-like, caramel-colored flesh. As children, my sister, cousins and I would eat these by the bowlful. (Our parents never had to worry that we didn't eat enough fruit. In fact, I would say in those early days fruit was our candy.) While I hovered over the sapodilla pile, selecting what would become part of our breakfast for the rest of the trip, my husband bought a couple bags of minneola tangelos - those were to take back to Minnesota.
Minneolas are a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit and are good oranges for just about any utilization. They are excellent for eating, for making freshly squeezed juice, and for cooking. They worked well in this recipe but, of course, any other variety of orange will do.
Serves 4 to 5
1 free range 2 1/2 to 3 lb chicken
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 cinnamon sticks
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 whole minneola oranges
1 cup orange juice (from two oranges)
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp agave/honey
1. Set to the oven to 450 degrees F. With paper towels, pat the chicken dry, on the inside and outside. Place on a roasting rack.
2. Combine the ground spices, salt and pepper and, using your fingers, thoroughly season the chicken, again on the inside and outside. Cut the onions and one of the oranges into wedges and, together with the cinnamon sticks and thyme, stuff the cavity. Truss the bird. Bake at 450 degrees F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bird reads 165 degress F. Remove from the oven and allow to rest while you prepare the sauce.
For the sauce:
Peel and remove the pulp segments of the remaining two oranges. Discard the peel and set aside the pulp. Combine the pan juices with the one cup of orange juice, grated garlic, agave, and cornstarch. Whisk together and place on medium high heat; bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until it thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the reserved orange segments and cook for another minute before serving over the chicken.