Alice B. Toklas Chicken

August 17th, 2009

I promise that I did not add marijuana to this chicken. Alice B. Toklas was born in San Franscisco in 1877. She moved to Paris in 1907 and became the partner of the writer Gertrude Stein. The two women hosted a salon that attracted many expatriate Americans such as Ernest Hemingway and Thorton Wilder and painters Picasso and Matisse. She became well known for her cooking and published The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook in 1954. The most famous recipe was called Haschich (sic) Fudge which contained fruit, nuts, spices and cannibus. During the turbulent ’60s her name was lent to Alice B. Toklas brownies which contained marijuana.

This chicken does not need marijuana to make you feel good. I love a good roast chicken. I have my standard recipe that is a pretty simple bird stuffed with lemons and rosemary and drizzled with oil and roasted at 425 degrees. There are a few extra steps in making this chicken and it makes all the difference in the world. First the chicken is browned on both sides in an oven proof skillet. After roasting for a time, ruby port and orange juice are added to the skillet and it is roasted a while longer. The finishing sauce is enhanced with orange zest and heavy cream. The sauce is what makes this chicken outstanding. It is absolutely delicious. This is another wonderful recipe from my bargain cookbook Simple Soirees by Peggy Knickerbocker.


1 medium sized (about 3 1/2 pounds) roasting chicken, preferable free-range
2 Tbls unsalted butter
2 Tbls olive oil ( I used less )
1/2 cup ruby port
1/2 cup orange juice
3 Tbls heavy cream
Zest of 1 orange, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 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.

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, then add the orange juice and baste again. Roast for about 5 minutes more ( I roasted it for 10 to 15 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.

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.

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.

Printable recipe

16 responses to “Alice B. Toklas Chicken”

  1. Lyla says:

    Thanks for the luscious recipe and the heads up about the Simple Soirees cookbook. I just ordered it for a friend’s birthday. Amazon had it for less than cover price but more than your great bargain price.

  2. Penny says:

    Thanks Lyla, I just checked out the Amazon price and it is worth it! I keep finding more good recipes in this book.

  3. I’m sure the port and orange juice bring a lot of flavor to it. Also browning it first would make a big difference.

    Your new cookbook sounds wonderful as does this chicken. Perhaps this chicken could be a tribute to Woodstock’s anniversary.

  4. Penny says:

    There you go Sam. Happy Anniversary Woodstock! I remember those days well and Janice Joplin belting out her amazing vocals.

  5. Toni says:

    Ruby port, orange juice and zest and heavy cream? What do I need to do to get invited over for dinner? 😉 I love the sound of this!

  6. Mary says:

    What a luscious recipe. This looks really good. Yum!

  7. Kate says:

    I remember the 60’s. I shared your post with my husband. We both enjoyed it. I never knew the history behind Alice B Toklas, appreciate your sharing. We both agreed that port and orange juice would be wonderful with roast chicken. We will try it!

  8. Suzie says:

    I love roast chicken too – someting about having a chicken roasting in the oven that makes me feel all is right with the world. Thanks for a new roast to try.

  9. Penny says:

    Toni, If you weren’t so far away you would be invited.

    Mary, It is worth the few extra steps. Thanks

    Kate, Glad you and your husband enjoyed it.

    Suzie, A roast chicken would be very appropriate for your part of the world. Is it cold?

  10. Katy ~ says:

    Oh my gosh, do I ever love all the ingredients you have used in this. I’ll have to wait for the weather to become a bit cooker, but this sounds sooo delicious!

  11. Martha says:

    I have the same cookbook — Simple Soirees but have never cooked anything from it — this chicken looks yummy! And I also have the Alice B. Toklias cookbook — it’s a good read.

  12. That chicken looks and sounds wonderful. I love the sauce. I’ll bet it makes yummy sandwiches too.

  13. Natashya says:

    What gorgeous colour on that bird! Looks wonderful. I want to pick it up and eat it with my hands. I promise, I am not stoned either. 😉

  14. Hi Penny,
    Oh this sounds delish and the chicken looks so tender. I printed the recipe.
    Enjoy your day,

  15. How did I miss this — looks wonderful! Cream and orange. I’m saving this for a cool day.

  16. Denise Shelton says:

    This is now an old standby recipe in our family. Wow, it’s just so darn good! Tonight, I’m doubling the port and oj because there’s never enough sauce.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.