Good Plan, Poor Execution

Recipe: Roast Chicken with Grapes

Sometimes all it takes to interest me in a recipe is a single word, and just as frequently, a single wrong word can put me off. This week’s recipe could have gone either way. When I first saw it, I was kind of weirded out. Grapes? With chicken? How can that end well?

But I’ve made things from this site with good results before, so I looked at it more closely. Right at the end of the first paragraph I got hooked by ‘chutney‘. Something about that word made the dish work for me and in retrospect I can’t tell you why. Full disclosure: I don’t think I’ve ever even had a chutney of any variety. I have a vague idea of what chutney is, but it’s probably wrong. It was enough to get me to try this out, and I’m glad I did.

It’s a very easy dish to prep, simply rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Wipe it down with olive oil inside and out and season aggressively with kosher salt and black pepper. Fill the cavity with a cup of halved seedless grapes and a wedge of lemon and onion, along with some fresh sprigs of herbs. Put the rest of the grapes, lemon and onion wedges, and some more herbs in the bottom of the roasting pan, then put it into the oven.

This is where my effort went awry. The original recipe calls for the chicken to spend twenty-five minutes at 450 degrees, thirty minutes at 400 degrees, and an additional ten to twenty minutes at 400 degrees. I’m pretty sure my oven cooks a little hotter than indicated on the dial. By the time ten of the “additional ten to twenty” minutes had gone by I decided it was “done”. When I checked with a thermometer, it was about ten degrees past done. In addition, the “chutney” that was supposed to be in the bottom of the roasting pan was mostly “charcoal”, another word that starts with “ch”, but doesn’t quite have the culinary Cachet of “chutney”.

Roast Chicken with Grapes
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 10 mins
Total time: 1 hour 30 mins
Serves: 4-5
When cooked correctly, a delicious fruity take on roast chicken.
  • 1 4-5 lb. roasting chicken
  • 3 cups seedless grapes
  • 1 lemon, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 cups white wine
  • fresh rosemary, sage, thyme
  • olive oil
  1. rinse chicken inside and out, pat dry. rub olive oil on the inside and out and season generously with kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. fill the cavity with 1 cup of grapes cut in half, 1 or 2 wedges of lemon and onion, and a few sprigs of herbs.
  3. spread the remaining grapes, herbs, lemon, and onion over the bottom of the roasting pan. place the chicken, breast side down, in a rack in the pan. preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  4. bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. baste with one cup of wine and reduce the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. bake for 20 minutes and baste with the remaining cup of wine.
  6. bake an additional 10-20 minutes, or until the temperature of the deepest part of the thigh reaches 160 degrees, then remove from the oven.
  7. move the chicken to a cutting board and tent with foil to rest for 15 minutes. carve and serve with the pan juices, grapes and onions (remove the lemon and herbs) along with rice or potatoes.


With the liberal application of additional white wine, and careful culling of the material left in the bottom of the roasting pan, I was able to salvage enough material to approximate the “pan juices, grapes, and onion sauce” to serve with the chicken. All the moisture in the grapes kept the chicken moist and flavorful, even as badly over-cooked as it was. I think this would be outstanding if it was cooked correctly. I’ve adjusted the times and temps in my version of the recipe downward. When you try this, judge “done” by using a meat thermometer (always a good idea anyway).

Rating: I have to give this effort only a 3 out of 5 because of the over-cooking problem. But, I think this has the potential to be a real show-stopping meal if cooked correctly. It makes a spectacular presentation with surprisingly little effort (or skill) required.

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