Roasted Chicken with Sweet Plum Sauce

TV Segment

Caption me! What the hell am I saying???

(no, your screen isn’t dirty – I had to snag that off my TV by taking a pic of the video. The smudges? I was watching Anthony Bourdain on TV and was either practicing kissing him like a lovestruck teen or trying the new scratch ‘n sniff feature on his show)

The station called me Monday morning as I was rounding the kidlets up to go to school. “We need a chef to come on air this morning! Can you do it?”

Good thing I had my Wonder Woman cape in my purse.

and good thing I had ingredients in my freezer and pantry for Firecracker Shrimp. Otherwise, I might have been forced to cook Spam ‘n leftover fish scramble with a stale Cheetos crust and frozen raspberry puree.

Video here – just click on the “Featured Video” link.


Roasted Chicken with Sweet Plum Sauce

from the Steamy Kitchen Tampa Tribune column

Part of being a good parent is teaching your kids how to eat well, you know, the whole balanced meal and limiting junk thing. Yes, I know my responsibilities well. But seriously, most kids these days register only 3 taste sensations: sweet, salty and gross. As a lover of all things delicious, the concept of “eating well” is just not enough. I want my kids to experience the goofy giddiness that follows a spoonful of the most decadent, smooth, rich chocolate pudding. Twirl with delight as they pop a sugar-snap pea open and discover bright green jewels inside. Oh, but it doesn’t end there….

Ever since Andrew and Nathan passed the smushed food stage, I began teaching them the concept of the “best part” of a dish.

They say that in ancient China when kidnapping children was common, the kidnappers could tell whether a kid was royalty or not just by presenting a steamed whole fish. If the kid went straight for the “best part,” or the cheeks, then bingo! He was the real deal

Ok, so not that I think my tots are royalty or anything, but if ever we are invited to Oprah’s house and my kids go straight for the fish eyeballs just to see how far they could catapult them, I’d be mortified.

Instead, I’ve taught them to savor the tender, fatty collar of a ribeye steak, the baby heart of a romaine, the crisp-chewy-but-not-burnt edge of a brownie, the crunchy, browned rice at the bottom of the pot, and the pillowy mound of bread right at the center of the loaf.

However, this has all backfired on me. Previously, all 20 glorious square inches of golden, crispy skin of a perfectly roasted chicken was mine, all mine. Now, I have to split it with them. Let’s do the math. 20 square inches divided by 3, minus begging for more of Mommy’s share, equals SO NOT FAIR.

I’m sure you see my dilemma now. Teaching the kids about the love of food means I get less of the good stuff. But pretending to the kids that oh-my-goodness–that-overcooked-liver -is-delicious while I sneak the juicy nugget of chicken meat right above the thigh, is not quite the right thing to do.

I have no answer, my friends, but just to roast the biggest, baddest chicken with maximum surface area and smother it with a sweet, sticky sweet plum sauce so that the entire bird becomes the “best part.”

Roasted Chicken with Sweet Plum Sauce

Roasted Chicken with Sweet Plum Sauce

Sweet plum sauce is found in the Asian section of your supermarket. It’s the same sweet, slightly tart, jam-like sauce that some Chinese restaurants give you to dip your fried egg rolls in. The sauce is wonderful paired with pork chops, seared duck breast or a simple grilled fish. You can roast any size bird, just increase your roasting time for larger birds.

Serves 4

4-lb whole chicken
1/4 cup sweet plum sauce
1 head of garlic, halved
1 lemon, quartered
salt & pepper
3 tbl butter, softened
kitchen twine
1/4 cup sweet plum sauce to serve at table

Rinse chicken and cut away extra fat. Pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Place in shallow baking dish and rub softened butter all over chicken, tucking just a bit under the skin of breast. Season generously with salt and pepper outside and inside cavity. Stuff with garlic and lemon. Tie legs of the chicken together, slather sweet plum sauce all over chicken. Set breast side down. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature. Preheat oven to 450F. Roast chicken 20 minutes. Turn breast side up, lower temperature to 375F and return to oven. Continue to roast another 60-70 minutes, brushing with additional sweet plum sauce towards the end. You may have to loosely tent with tin foil if skin is approaching maximum crispiness (i.e. don’t burn the skin.) Chicken is done when juices run clear as knife tip is inserted into chicken thigh. Thickest part of thigh without touching bone should register 170F. Let chicken rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with a side of sweet plum sauce for dipping.

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Comments 67

  1. amyjo smith

    ah man, i have been successfully avoiding the grocery store – and now, because of your chicken (and my ability to not only pull that one off, but actually get the girls to eat it) – i will have to go into the grocery store tomorrow and buy real food (not just the kellog’s cereals that were 7 boxes for $1.69 last week).


    that looks almost as yummy as a fresh off the boat, baked, whole salmon (we’re spoiled like that, with commercial fishermen friends)

  2. argus

    You’re establishing a good reputation as a demo chef the TV station can depend on. Congrats! And, you know what, you’re getting as smooth in your delivery as creme-brulee-before-you-torch-in-the-burnt-sugar. 😉 Your voice is ‘telegenic’, too (tele-friendly?!). You’ve a big future in TV, Mrs Steamy. Mark. My. Words.

    And, oh, isn’t that Mr Bourdain the most delectable celeb chef around? Yumsome!

  3. LunaPierCook

    I like this version better than the last time you made Firecracker Shrimp on TV! I’ll bet he had a great time fixing your mic … 😉

    Roast Chicken is something I’ve tried a couple times, but I think I’ll try your version next. It’s definitely a bit more interesting than the “keep is simple” version in Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.

  4. SpecialEd

    Argus is correct, you are going places! I wanted to try the firecracker shrimp after reading your post but now that I see how easy it is, no problem!

    Now if you can just give me a good recipe for Singapore Mai Fan?


  5. veron

    I tototally agree with all the best part of food. That’s the fat collar of the rib-eye and the skin of the chicken. In my household it’s all mine because hubby does not like it (yeh I know he is weird). Wow! An impromptu chef appearance. You are really Wonder Woman !!! But wait a minute….I don’t think wonder woman had a cape ?! 🙂

  6. Helen

    Ah I see your dilemma! I think you have done something so wonderful though, passing on your love of food to your children and helping them to appreciate the joy that it can bring. Shame you had to suffer for it. I don’t have kids yet so I will enjoy double the helping of best bits for you…

  7. Helen

    P.S. Veron is right, wonderwoman didn’t have a cape, she did have really hideous high-waisted knickers though! Oh dear….

  8. joanne

    Oh being a mom sucks when it’s time to eat, and you have to share all that yummy stuff. My kid has eaten all my fillet mignon, scallops, lobster, crab, and fish. He’s learned to eat the fish cheek, collar, egg sac, suck the bones, and eat the eye socket and eyeball. All from watching my dad. Now when we have fish, it’s got to be whole flounder, steamed never fried, and he wants a whole fish to himself! Feeding kids well is never inexpensive.

  9. LunaPierCook

    WORC, when you get to that recipe look about an inch below the title of “Firecracker Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce”, right where the ingredients begin, and click on “What’s for Dinner – 03/24/08”.

  10. TR

    THANK YOU! Anthony Bourdain may be twice my age but any man who, philosophically, swears and drinks his way through the best homemade food in the world has a place on my “special list”.

  11. Helene

    Thanks for the video! Since I don’t get that station where I live, it was great to see it, and you made that firecracker shrimp look so easy, I’m headed out to the asian store to pick up the wrappers…I’m up for it tonight! Chicken looks great too…love your photography.

  12. Mike

    Congrats on the rushed TV appearance! You’re becoming quite the celebrity!

    The chicken sounds very tasty. And teaching the kids about the best part definitely sounds like a double edged sword…but if it has them eating good food, it sounds like a worthwhile tactic

  13. courtney

    I need to stock up at the stores in China Town here in Chicago. My pantry is starting to become more Asian in ingridants( I suddenly realized).I have 2 roasting chickens in the freezer and will bookmark this. I love that Chili Sauce you featured in the link to firecraker shrimp. We put it on anything we can.

  14. Jeremy

    Jaden, You could of wiped the screen a bit, I mean I interviewed Anthony on my blog and he is really nice! That guy on the screen with you looks mortified, what were you describing?

  15. Deborah

    Are you trying to talk me out of having kids? 😉 This sounds like one perfect chicken dish!

  16. Grifola frondosa

    Whew! Now we’re really impressed.

    Are you sure you actually roasted the chicken and didn’t stop at the supermarket and used a blow torch to crisp it up, and then slap on the plum sauce?

    You’ve already proved you’re no stranger to power tools and a propane tank isn’t farfetched at all.

    C’mon Jaden, Inquiring foodies want to know.


  17. wonders

    Hi, your site kicks ass!! I love the way you photograph your food and the way you write is just plain fun! You’re boys are so adorable, keep up the good work!!

  18. Michelle

    I’m with you, Jaden. I felt the same when the “shift” had to happen when my boy started eating solids. Suddenly all the goodies weren’t mine any more. Contemplating my next move on my half-eaten plate I would glance up and have two big blues eyes looking back at me, telepathically telling me: “So, how about giving me some?” *sigh* At least it’s pleasing to see him enjoying food so much….

  19. Ryan O'Vineyards

    For some reason, the featured video link isn’t working. It might be because I’m running Linux (Kubuntu). Oh well. My loss.

    It looks like you’re having a lot of fun in that picture of the TV though:
    “RISE, Minions! With eye of newt and 1/2 tsp of grated ginger, rise!”

  20. katy

    hahaha! i’m reading kitchen confidential right now — haven’t made out with the book yet though! excellent recipe — what a great alternative to a traditional roast chicken recipe!

  21. Cakebrain

    Yah. You know you love your kids when you give them all the crispy skin from the chicken or Chinese roasted duck. I do it all the time! sigh.

  22. Sharon

    I love whining almost as much as I love eating, so thanks for the opportunity to do it in public!! This is the second time I have been unable to view a video by clicking on the “Featured Video” link. Please to fix!

  23. Melinda

    I have been trying to think of something witty (and playfully smutty) to beat the good caption thought of by Tracey. But darn it, that was a good one. You win Tracey, very funny!
    You are really spoiling those boys. No woman on this earth will ever be as good as their mom. Oh well.
    (You were great on the video!)

  24. We Are Never Full

    Man, this looks good. I have to admit, although I don’t have kids yet I do think about how it will be when I do have them – especially around food. Will I have time to cook? Will I be as creative? Will I want to or be too tired? When we do eat will they scoff at the deliciousness I put in front of them?

    Time will tell ,but I like your plan of telling them about the ‘good bits’ early on!!

    Amy @

  25. Cris

    Hi, it is just great to watch you!!! And what a great shrimp recipe, my kids will love it! My oldest boy just loves trying new food.

  26. Cara db

    wow, all the captions are so family friendly, I’m definitely not posting the one that occurred to me.

    The chicken just went on the list for this weekend’s project. Nom nom nom.

  27. Donald

    Caption: “Then I got the rock at the top of the key and I put it on the floor, shook one dude and had a clear path to the hoop, so I just slammed on him.”

    Great chicken Jaden. That is a staple in my house. The plum sauce is a nice touch.

    So, you gonna fix my mike? That’s the best part. 🙂

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