Kumquats are in season and that calls for a feast celebration. I just love these little fruit gems of intense citrus aroma and unbelievable taste. I love eating them whole and feel them burst in my mouth. I admit I must have eaten half while making this dish.
Last year I cooked them in a brandied syrup (candied kumquats) and piled them on top of a creamy-dreamy cheesecake. This year I took a more savory route and used them to braise a chicken. The braising liquid transformed into this divine citrusy, aromatic sauce and it was the absolute star of this dish. I served it with the Cypriot version of pilaf (that’s rice cooked with angel hair pasta but that’s another story/recipe) to make sure that the rice absorbed that delicious sauce and not one drop was left on the plate. Otherwise, plate licking would have been in order.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 whole chicken, butterflied (ask your butcher to butterfly the chicken or do it your self by cutting the chicken in half with kitchen shears, starting from the neck to the tail. Then push it down with your palms to flatten it as much as possible. But then again… ask your butcher to do it)
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced or crushed
- 2 cups kumquats, sliced (remove pits)
- ½ cup brandy
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 4 Tbs honey
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200 C. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
In a large skillet, big enough to fit the chicken, add the olive oil and the chicken skin side down, over medium heat. You don’t need to wait for the oil to heat before adding the chicken. Starting from a cool pan, over medium heat, will render the fat better, resulting to a crispier skin. Cook the chicken until you get a nice golden colour on both sides. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside until needed.
Add the onions to the skillet with a pinch of salt and cook until soft and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook another minute or so. Add the kumquats and cook for another minute. Pour in the brandy, lemon juice, honey, chicken broth and thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Bring everything the boil.
Return the chicken back to the skillet skin side up. If your skillet cannot be transferred in the oven, place the chicken in an oven pan and pour the contents of the skillet around (not over) the chicken. Transfer skillet or oven pan in the preheated oven and roast uncovered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until juices run clear and chicken is cooked through.
Let chicken rest for 15 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve together with the divine pan juices.
Note: For an interesting presentation, take the chicken out of the oven 10 minutes earlier. Take some of the kumquats from the pan and put them on the chicken. Return chicken to the oven for another 10 minutes. The kumquats on the chicken will caramelize even burn in places. They look nice.