A roast half chicken with heirloom carrots being drizzled with citrus sauce.

Chef Gok’s Citrus Chicken Recipe

Succulent, sweet-sour citrus chicken is a cinch. Prepare an aromatic marinade, leave to infuse overnight and chicken need never be bland again!

There is a real art to recipe creation. There’s a reason we search the globe for extensively experienced chefs who have spent years developing their palates and their deep understanding of how flavours and textures work together. Have you ever dreamt up a dish that sounds great on paper, but once it hits your plate it’s a little ho-hum? Not to say that recipe writing should be the sole domain of the professionals, but it can be a little more challenging than you might think. 

To give you a little insight into the mind of a genius, one of the main tenants we work with is contrast. Contrast in flavour, texture, temperature, when artfully executed can lead to very pleasing results. In Gok’s chicken dish he relies on the pronounced savoury characters of premium, free-range chicken to play counterpoint to the tangy sweet-sour notes in his marinade. 

Some creations are pure innovation, whilst others riff off of time-honoured classics. Sweet and sour marinades serve a very logical purpose additional to their mouth-watering flavour. As the chicken rests in the citrus marinade, it is bathed in a gentle acid which works its way deep into the meat, loosening the bonds in its structure tenderising the meat before it is cooked. Actually, any poultry would work well here (citrus turkey this festive season anyone!?), the marinade could even be applied to a tough cut of pork (collar butt would be our choice) or even, for a much briefer resting time, fish. The final result is gloriously tender, succulent meat perfumed with pronounced citrus underpinned by warming, toasted spices.

Chef Gok’s Citrus Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

1 free-range chicken
4 lemons
3 oranges
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cloves
1 star anise
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
80g tomato paste
50ml sunflower oil
Salt & pepper to taste

 

    Method

    Prepare the citrus

    Use a vegetable peeler to remove the rind (just the yellow or orange outer skin, not the white pith below) of the lemons and oranges and set it aside. Squeeze the juice into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Notice the depth of the juice in the pan then simmer till it has reduced by half. This will take around 5 minutes.

    Toast the spices

    Meanwhile, set a separate pan over medium heat and add the whole spices (coriander, fennel, cloves and anise) and toss about in the pan for two minutes or until they are fragrant. Add the powdered spices (chilli and paprika) and toss for a further 30 seconds until they are warmed through. 

    Prepare the marinade

    Add the toasted spices, citrus rind, tomato paste, sunflower oil and salt and pepper to the reduced juice and stir well to combine. Have a little taste. It should be intensely sweet/sour with a good amount of saltiness. Pop it in the fridge to cool.

    Prepare the chicken (or ask your butcher!)

    At any of our stores, take the chicken from the fridge and pass it to the butcher. Ask them to halve the chicken and remove the backbone. They’ll gladly do it for you, then wrap it up and hand it back. Online, add a chicken to your cart and write this request in the comment box at the checkout - same result.

    For those wanting to do it themselves, pat the chicken thoroughly dry with a clean tea towel then sit it breast side up on a cutting board. (You don’t want a wet slippery chicken near your sharp knife and fingers!) Run your fingers from the neck to tail to feel for the backbone. With a very sharp knife or pair of kitchen scissors, cut along the length of the backbone on one side. Hold the tail and cut along the other side to remove the backbone. Put the backbone in the freezer and get it out next time you’re making stock or gravy. Still breast side up, open up the bird and you’ll feel a natural depression along the centre inside the cavity, cut along that line and you’re done. 

    Marinate - let those flavours infuse

    Put the two halves of the chicken in a sturdy zip-lock bag and tip in the cooled marinade. Squeeze out all the air, zip it up, massage it about a bit and leave it to marinate in the fridge overnight. 

    Sous vide - yes you can do it at home

    Take the chicken from the fridge and put the bag inside another zip lock back just to be extra careful. Make sure all the air is squeezed out from both bags. Fill your largest pot with hot water and set it over the lowest flame. This should hold the water around 65°C. Pop in your chicken, put on the lid and leave it to cook for 3 hours. 

    Alternatively, bake in the oven

    If you’re not in the mood to sous vide or time is a little tight, empty the entire contents of the bag into a baking dish. Scrunch a sheet of baking paper into a ball to soften it, open it out then tuck it over the chicken halves. Wrap the dish in tin foil and seal tightly. Bake at 180°C for 40-45 minutes. 

    Serve

    The final result will be succulent, very flavoursome chicken and you can serve it however you like. We serve it with parsley mashed potatoes, heirloom carrots and a generous amount of the tangy marinade. It’s equally delicious shredded into a sandwich, wrap or salad, with a side of creamy polenta, quinoa or cauliflower, even tossed through a summery pasta with peas, mint and parmesan. 

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