Golden Roast Chicken with Orange Glaze

Back at home in Penang, red & gold decorations hang from the ceiling and plaster the walls, stacks of cookie containers balance precariously on the dining room table, and my mom hurriedly rolls pineapple tarts one by one before popping small batches into a toaster oven. 

I am in Minnesota this Chinese New Year – which begins this Saturday night – but no matter how cold it is or much snow blankets the ground here, I can still imagine and feel the excitement of the Spring Festival in Penang. 

And smell and taste it by cooking up dishes like this Golden Roast Chicken with Orange Glaze.

This Golden Roast Chicken with Orange Glaze is a simple main dish, with the use of three key spices in Chinese cooking – star anise, Vietnamese cinnamon and ginger – along with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and orange. 

Associated with happiness and prosperity, the bright color of orange also symbolizes 'gold', which makes the citrus fruit a popular ingredient in Chinese New Year dishes.

Typically, I would cook a whole chicken for Chinese New Year as it emphasizes the coming together of family during this annual celebration, but since my extended family is scattered across the world now – and since I had two packages of drumsticks in the freezer that Mark was hoping I would roast up – I decided on a slight change to tradition. 

Serve this Orange-Glazed Roast Chicken with fragrant rice, steamed bok choy or baby gailan drizzled with oyster sauce, and Chinese stir-fried broccoli & mushroom.

Golden Roast Chicken with Orange Glaze
by Season with Spice 

10-12 chicken drumsticks (or one whole chicken) - washed and patted dry
Freshly ground black pepper
Orange slices for garnish

Marinade sauce: 
2-3 cloves garlic – minced
1-2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 Season with Spice's star anise pods
3 Season with Spice's Vietnamese cinnamon sticks
1 cup orange juice
Zest of one medium size orange
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce (optional)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
4 green onion – coarsely chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1. In a large saucepan, heat all marinade ingredients over medium-high fire until simmering. Turn heat down and continue simmering for 15-20 minutes, until it thickens to the consistency of a sauce. When done, stir in toasted sesame oil. Set aside to cool completely.
2. Place chicken drumsticks in a sealable plastic bag and pour in the cooled marinade. Coat the chicken well and place the sealed bag in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours, or preferably overnight
3. Preheat oven to 425F.
4. Line baking pan with foil and place drumsticks evenly on top (keep some of the leftover marinade in the bag to use for basting). Season with freshly ground black pepper, and place in preheated oven.
5. Roast for 45-50 minutes, turning and basting 2-3 times with the leftover marinade (brush with honey during the last basting).