Roasted cranberry chicken

December 16, 2009

Perhaps you have a can of cranberry sauce in your cupboard, leftover from Thanksgiving, that you don’t know what to do with. This recipe is for you. The brining step is optional if you are trying to cut back on your sodium, don’t have time, or don’t like the taste of brined meat. If you do have the time and forethought, the brine will guarantee moist and flavorful chicken through and through. You might want to start at the lower end of the brining time your first time making the chicken, brining it longer the next time if you would have liked more flavor, as the 6 hours of brining might make the chicken too salty for some tastes. Serve the chicken and gravy with steamed brown rice and roasted butternut squash.


  • ¼ C salt
  • ¼ C sugar
  • a few long sprigs of rosemary (optional)
  • water
  • one gallon resealable plastic bag


  • 3 ½ to 4 lbs bone in chicken breasts with skin
  • 3 T softened, unsalted butter
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 1 T chopped ginger
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can of cranberry sauce (whole berry or jellied)

Fill the resealable plastic bag one third to half full of lukewarm water. Add the salt and sugar, swishing it around a bit to help it dissolve. Add the chicken breasts and rosemary and seal the bag. Place the bag in a in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours. Remove the chicken from the bag and rinse it thoroughly (or else the chicken will be too salty).

Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with some paper towels and place them into a baking dish. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Combine the finely grated zest of a lemon and of an orange with the butter. Separate the skin of each chicken breast from the meat with your fingers and rub the zest-butter mixture under the skin of each chicken breast. Sprinkle 1 T chopped ginger, the juice of a lemon, the juice of an orange and about 1 T balsamic vinegar over the chicken breasts. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake the chicken at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Place the cranberry sauce in a bowl and mash it with a fork so that it is easier to spread over the chicken. Take the chicken out of the oven after 20 mintues and spread a thin layer of cranberry sauce over the chicken, putting  the remaining cranberry sauce in with the pan juices. Bake the chicken for another 20 to 30 minutes at 450 degrees, or until internal temps reach 165 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the oven and place the chicken breasts on a platter to rest, loosely tented with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Skim the fat off of the gravy in the pan. Serve the chicken and some brown rice with the gravy.

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