Alice B. Toklas Chicken

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

One wintry day I picked up The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, hoping to soothe the monotony of the long gray season with something inspired and Parisian to cook. I was delighted to find a recipe that my mother had served at dinner parties. Later it became one of my most requested dishes when I was a young caterer in San Francisco. Alice B. Toklas called it Katie's Capon, but I always make it with chicken. This recipe is adapted for the American kitchen.

2 to 4 servings

Cooking Methodroasting



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Five Ingredients or LessYes



Taste and Texturefruity, savory


  • 1 medium-sized (about 3½ pounds) roasting chicken, preferably free-range
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup ruby port
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Zest of 1 orange, grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. When you bring the chicken home from the market, unwrap it and sprinkle it generously with salt. Cover and refrigerate it until ready to cook. Bring the bird to room temperature before cooking. Do not rub off the salt.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  3. In a large ovenproof skillet warm the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Brown the chicken breast side down, for 3 to 5 minutes then turn it over and brown the other side for 3 to 5 minutes.

  4. Place the skillet in the oven and roast the chicken for 45 minutes. Pour the port over the chicken and baste it. Roast for 10 minutes more, than add the orange juice and baste again. Roast for about 5 minutes more. The chicken is done when the juices of the thigh run clear when pierced with the blade of a sharp knife, or when the thigh wiggles easily. Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board, and let it rest as you make the sauce.

  5. Skim as much fat off the top of the juices in the skillet as you can and discard. Place the skillet over medium heat and add the cream, stirring up the crispy bits on the bottom. Add about half the orange zest and allow the sauce to reduce as you stir constantly for a few minutes.

  6. Carve the chicken and transfer it to a serving platter. Pour some of the sauce over the chicken and transfer the rest into a gravy boat or small pitcher and serve it at the table. Sprinkle the remaining orange zest over the chicken.


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