A big, fat roasting hen is an excellent choice for an eight-person gathering—just as impressive as a roast turkey but downsized so you don't end up with lots of leftovers. Though the recipe doesn't include Chinese five-spice powder, it does capture the flavors of the classic blend with fennel, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and pepper.
Cooking Light DECEMBER 2010
1. Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Discard giblets and neck from chicken. Trim tough outer leaves from fennel; mince feathery fronds to measure 2 tablespoons. Remove and discard stalks. Cut bulb into quarters. Place 1 fennel quarter, 6 thyme sprigs, 4 garlic cloves, lemon wedges, 1/2 cinnamon stick, and whole clove in body cavity. Combine fennel fronds, oil, 3/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks. Rub salt mixture under skin. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under chicken. Tie legs together with twine. Place chicken on the rack of a roasting pan. Arrange remaining 4 garlic cloves, remaining fennel quarters, and onion in bottom of roasting pan; place rack with chicken in pan. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 375°.
4. Add remaining 6 thyme sprigs, remaining cinnamon stick half, wine, broth, orange rind, and star anise to bottom of pan; baste chicken. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes; baste chicken. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the meaty part of thigh registers 165°. Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes.
5. Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour drippings into bag; let stand 5 minutes (fat will rise). Seal bag; snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into roasting pan, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Cook over medium heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits, until reduced to 1 1/4 cups. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, apricots, and butter. Serve sauce with chicken; discard skin before serving.
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