Place bread cubes on a baking sheet. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes; set aside.
Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse under cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over chicken. Squeeze orange over a bowl to extract juices. Place 1 orange half, bay leaves, and 3 tablespoons orange juice in neck cavity. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under breasts. Place chicken, breast side up, on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Pierce skin several times with a meat fork. Insert meat thermometer into meaty part of thigh, making sure not to touch bone.
Bake chicken at 450° for 50 minutes or until thermometer registers 180°. Place croutons around chicken, and cook an additional 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan, reserving pan drippings. Cover chicken loosely with foil; let stand 10 minutes. Discard skin. Arrange croutons on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle pan drippings and garlic over croutons, stirring to coat. Bake at 450° for 5 minutes or until crisp. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.
Excellent dish, very flavorful and easy to prepare. I followed the recipe exactly. I did, however, find the croutons a little dry, but supplemented the croutons after plating with the juices from the accompanying Provençale Potato Ragout With Green Olives, which also was excellent. Will be a repeat menu in our home!
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