Friday, February 27, 2009

Tupelo Honey Glazed Roasted Chicken

I love honey. I always have.

When I was very young my family lived in an agricultural community in Northern Washington. We lived on a defunct raspberry farm surrounded by strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry fields, dairy farms, hazelnut orchards - and only a few miles away from a great uncle who kept bees.

There are few things I remember more fondly about food in my childhood than a bowl of fresh raspberries from the back yard and a bowl of fresh milk - maybe with a sprig of mint - or a piece of still warm from the oven bread slathered with my great uncle's raw honey.

Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

So started a life long love affair with honey, whether it was used as a sweetener, a flavoring agent, or just eaten out of a jar (not that I would ever do that) I'm always game to eat some honey. Kind of like Winnie the Pooh I guess.

I like it in tea, in yogurt, on cakes or in cookies. The more varied kinds of honey the better - orange blossom, clover blossom, spiked with cinnamon or infused with berries. So it was with great anticipation that I bought a bottle of Tupelo honey while on vacation in Washington D.C. last Christmas.

If you're unfamiliar with Tupelo honey it is honey made from the blossoms of the White Tupelo Gum Tree. The Tupelo tree grows in flooded areas in the South - Georgia, Florida, Louisiana - but the trees used to produce the honey commercially are typically along the Choctawhatchee, Apalachicola and Ochlockonee rivers. It is prized for it's unique flavor and inability to granulate. It is also the most expensive honey because of the great pains taken to produce it in its purest form.

Beekeepers fastidiously clean out the honeycomb right as the Tupelo trees blossom to eliminate the flavors of previous honeys. The bees are then usually set on elevated platforms just beneath the trees to encourage them to only collect from these trees.

The result? A honey with a beautiful tawny color, a sleek, smooth mouthfeel and the most captivating depth of flavor. It's not saccharine sweet like most commercially produced honeys, instead leaving the mouth with a feeling of heaviness and complexity. Not in a cloying way, but in a substantial way. It coats the tongue and slides down smoothly - an altogether pleasing experience.

I decided to glaze a chicken with it - for no other reason than I thought it might be tasty.

It was.

You should try it.

Tupelo Honey Glazed Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, approx. 4-5 lbs.
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Tupelo honey

Rinse the chicken thoroughly removing all organs from the cavity. Pat dry. Sprinkle liberally with salt and roast in a 425 F oven for 50-55 minutes until a thermometer inserted in a fleshy part of the thigh registers 170 F or a knife inserted between leg and body produces juices that run clear. Melt together the butter and honey and brush over the chicken liberally. Put back in 425 F oven for 4-5 minutes to darken, taking care not to let the skin burn - that is the tasty part after all. Remove from oven, brush with remaining glaze and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.


chuck said...

I love honey too! I always go to local bee farm and get my honey. It's amazing to see all the different flavors that honey comes in.

Your honey chicken looks good!

Anonymous said...

So little ingredients, so much sweet flavor. Magic!

katie said...

That honey sounds amazonig, I will seek it out. I wonder if real honey will become extinct with all the little bees disappearing...

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Hey neighbor! I just found you blog. Funny, I just posted a photo of my Tupelo Honey and homebaked Honey Whole Wheat bread that I baked yesterday. My brother bought a bottle of that for me, from Williams Sonoma (Del Monte Center) for Christmas.
Love it!

Great photos and recipe. I'll have to try this, fer sher.