Orange Rosemary Chicken

I recently wrote an article for Renaissance Magazine on historical cooking.  The first recipe was Orange Rosemary Chicken.  My assistant, Nicholas Childs (Brandon Thielen), cooked and photographed a phenomenal dish.  Below is the original submission including photos.

With summer nearly here, I wanted to offer readers a recipe that imbues warmth of the season, tastes great, and embraces the family spirit.  I selected Orange Rosemary Chicken, a dish that was popular among nobles throughout the southern European and Mediterranean regions during the later renaissance period.  Oranges were consider a delicacy and well-sought after.  The recipe is fairly easy to follow with the most challenging part is creating the zest from the oranges.  It is important to use fresh zest for the recipe, as dried orange peel will not offer the same intense flavors and offer a blander version.


The Indian and Mediterranean overtones in this recipe encompass garam masala and cinnamon which were brought to Europe via trade along the Silk Road.  Garam masala is a collection of spices that have been combined, roasted and ground by hand.  Each region would have its own variation of this spice.  The basis of this spice usually comprises cloves, green or black/brown cardamom, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg.  Commercial versions of this spice may also include dried red chili peppers, dried garlic, dried ginger, sesame seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, bay leaves, star anise, and/or fennel.  My assistant and I will often begin the first weekend at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival preparing our own batch of garam masala over a roaring fire using iron pots.


Root vegetables were commonplace in most of the cuisines throughout Europe during the renaissance.  Although turnips were used frequently, most modern tastes are not accustomed to the taste and texture of turnips. 


I realize that potatoes were brought to Europe with the discovery of the New World and were not commonly used; they have been added as a suggestion to this recipe for the modern American and European tastes.   Sweet potatoes may also be used to add additional color and a sweeter flavor to the dish.


I hope you will like this recipe, as it has been a favorite among my family and friends.



Orange Rosemary Chicken

3 chickens (cut into pieces)

4 cups of orange juice

2 TB olive oil

1 tsp garam masala

6 oranges

2 large leeks, diced (a very mild onion flavored vegetable)

4 sprigs of rosemary

2 turnips, peeled and cubed or 4 large white potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 parsnip, cleaned, peeled and thinly sliced

7 large carrots, cleaned and cubed

Black pepper (to taste)

Serves 12


Marinate the chicken in 4 cups of orange juice for at least 4 hours.  While marinating, remove the zest and juice four of the oranges (you may eat the other two of use the juice).  In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil up and remove the chicken from the marinade and begin to brown the chicken. At this time, dispose of the marinade. 


Once browned and without removing the chicken, add the majority of the zest (reserve 2 TB of orange zest) and fresh juice along with enough water to cover the chicken.  Add the turnips (or potatoes), parsnips, leeks, and carrots.  Tear the rosemary in half and add to the mixture.


Cook until the vegetables are tender.  Pull off the heat and let set for 5 minutes before serving, sprinkling the 2 TB zest and garam masala to the dish and serve family style along with some rustic bread and red wine.




Orange Rosemary Chicken

Orange Rosemary Chicken

About anj68

Alice uses cast iron pots and wooden utensils and keeps the recipes as close to the traditional recipe as possible. She even utilizes a fire pit located outside her home to test authentic recipes. For more information about Alice the Cook, visit her website at In future blogs, I will offer recipes, kitchen hints, and historical cooking lessons.
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