Divorce Chicken

Divorce Chicken

After Engagement Chicken and then Marry Me Chicken came (at least for me) divorce. The idea for this divorce chicken was born from an irreverent reply I gave when someone brought up the forever-trending marry me chicken recipe. This recipe I developed over time mostly so I could have a counter-point to the wedding bell bird.

The flavors of this, my Divorce Chicken, are inspired by some of the travels I did in the wake of my divorce. You can thank my Eat, Pray, Love journey for this one.

A whole chicken is roasted in a very Moroccan-inspired spice paste that includes the warm notes of cinnamon and cumin. It is cast iron roasted because you may have lost your sheet pans or roasting tray in the divorce, but that shouldn't slow you down from making this comfort food. The carrot salad is a round-the-world (but most especially the South East Asia part) dream loaded with fresh herbs, citrus, and laced with spicy Korean gochujang. And, unlike marriages, this recipe will work out more than 50% of the time.

The only equipment you need to make this recipe are what I also consider to be my top five kitchen tools. These are what you should shop for immediately upon getting your own place, or, better yet, ask for on a divorce gift registry (it's not a thing, but it very much should be a thing).

5 Tools Your Kitchen Needs: Divorce Edition

Chef’s Knife: invest in a good one and you’ll only need one (’til death do you part, but actually)

Cutting Board: plastic or wood, this is a non-negotiable to getting anything done in the kitchen
Cast Iron Pan: it moves from stove-top cooking to oven-roasting effortlessly, plus it’s affordable

Microplane: zesting citrus, grating garlic or Parm cheese this is the tool I reach for most

Veggie Peeler: opt for a Y shaped one, so you aren’t regretting yet another life choice you made

I wanted a whole roasted chicken for this recipe because it's enough to serve four, so you can feel free to invite over a few close friends to celebrate the sanctity of your new-found-happiness (I promise you'll get there) or to bring to someone you know going through their own separation. Alternatively, if you're still in the throws of it and need your alone time, this roast chicken can be eaten directly over the counter, with your hands, along with a nice, cold glass of *literally any drink* to get you through.

A Couple Chicken Tips

  • To make applying the spice mix under the skin of the chicken easier, once you have patted the chicken dry, use your fingers to separate the skin a bit from the breast and leg and thigh meat. Then you can go in with the spice paste and application will be much easier.
  • Also, rather than roasting a whole chicken you can prepare this recipe using a quartered chicken or with your favorite chicken parts that are bone in, skin on if you want to avoid the carving process.

Make Ahead

Both the dressing and the spice paste for the chicken can be made up to 4 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

A Note On Cooking With Fresh Citrus

  • Depending on the sweetness of the orange used, you may want to increase the sweetness of the dressing with the addition of a little honey or white or brown sugar. Sweetness helps dampen spice, so it’s also a good trick if you find that the dressing is too spicy for your liking— the addition of a little honey or sugar will help to cut some of the heat.
  • Depending on the ripeness of the orange or limes you happen to have, one citrus may yield slightly more or less juice than called for in this dressing recipe. For that reason, it’s always good to buy one or two extra fruits any time a recipe calls for fresh citrus, in case you happened to grab a dried out lime or dud of an orange and need back up.

“This spicy chicken and carrot salad was delicious! Spreading the spice mixture under and on top of the chicken infused it with an intense, savory-sweet flavor. The chicken took on a beautifully burnished color once roasted. The gochujang dressing paired really well with the carrots and herbs. Who knew divorce could be so sublime!” —Diana Andrews

Divorce Chicken/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 chicken whole chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds

For the Gochujang Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons gochujang

  • 1 navel orange for zesting and juicing (to yield: 1 tablespoon zest + 1/4 cup orange juice)

  • 1 lime for juicing (to yield: 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

For the Carrot Ribbon Salad:

  • 5 medium carrots, washed and peeled

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds

  • 1 small bunch mint leaves, torn into pieces

  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of the gochujang dressing

  • 1 to 2 bird’s eye chili cut into thin rounds, optional

Steps to Make It

Make the Chicken

  1. Gather ingredients. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 425 F.

    Ingredients to make divorce chicken

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, salt, cumin, pepper, ginger, and  oil to form a paste.

    A small bowl with a paste made from cinnamon, salt, cumin, pepper, ginger, and oil

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. Pat the chicken dry all over with paper towels and transfer to a large cast iron skillet or roasting pan, breast side up. Tuck the wings behind the back. If you happen to have kitchen twine, you can also tie the legs together, though trussing the bird is optional.

    A trussed, whole chicken in a cast iron skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. Use your fingers to spread the spice paste all under the skin of the chicken as well as the exterior of the bird.

    A trussed, whole chicken in a cast iron skillet coasted in the spice-oil mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  5. Transfer to the oven and roast until a thermometer registers 165 F when inserted in the thigh (be careful not to touch the bone), about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Prepare the dressing and carrot salad while the chicken roasts.

    A whole roasted chicken, coated with oil-spice mixture, trussed, in a cast iron skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

For the Gochujang Dressing:

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make gochujang dressing

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the gochujang, orange zest,  orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

    A bowl of gochujang dressing, made from gochujang, orange zest, orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

For the Carrot Ribbon Salad:

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make carrot ribbon salad

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds, swirling them  in the pan until fragrant and toasted, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

    A small cast iron skillet with toasted coriander seeds

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. Make the carrot ribbons by using a vegetable peeler to cut thin lengthwise slices  directly over  a large bowl. Add the mint and basil leaves, reserving some for garnish.

    A large bowl of shaved carrot ribbons, mint leaves, and basil leaves

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. When ready to serve, toss the carrots and herbs with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the prepared gochujang dressing. Add more dressing to your taste.

    A bowl of shaved carrot ribbons, mint leaves, and basil leaves tossed with gochujang dressing

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  5. Arrange the salad on a large platter. Top with the toasted coriander seeds, garnish with mint and basil leaves, and bird’s eye chili, if using.

    A platter with carrot ribbon salad, garnished with mint, basil, and birds eye chilies

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  6. When the chicken is done roasting and resting, carve into 8 pieces and serve with the carrot salad and any additional dressing for drizzling and dipping.

    A platter of carved divorce chicken, served on top of a carrot ribbon salad

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

Chicken Breast Variation

Due to the nature of the seasoning paste it will be intense on boneless, skinless chicken pieces if you use it all. If you want to use boneless, skinless chicken breast, adjust to smear only a small, dime sized dollop over each breast and then bake at 425 F for 18 to 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 F.

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