Placing nut butter under the skin of the chicken while it cooks helps to reinforce the nut flavor while keeping the meat extra moist. The chicken is roasted then carved and served with a pecan studded cranberry relish. Simple and delicious – the perfect combination.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast until they are browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven to cool; set aside.
Combine butter, ¼ cup pecans and thyme leaves in a small dish.
Loosen skin from breast and legs of chicken. Place ½ of butter mixture in a thin layer under the skin. Rub the oil on the outside of the chicken. Season the outside and inside cavity with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan with a rack. Roast for 55 to 60 minutes or until the juices from the thickest part of the thigh run clear and a meat thermometer inserted at that point registers 165°F. Remove from the oven and allow to rest 10-15 minutes before carving.
Prepare the cranberry relish: While the chicken is cooking, combine the cranberries, sugar, orange juice and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the cranberries start to burst, 8-10 minutes. Strain the cranberries out and reduce the cooking liquid for 2-3 minutes over medium heat or until it becomes syrupy. Stir in the red wine vinegar. Pour the liquid over the cranberries and stir in ¼ cup pecans.
Arrange the dish: Melt the remaining butter mixture in the microwave on HIGH heat for 20 to 30 seconds. Carve the chicken into pieces and pour a little of the pecan butter on each pieces and arrange them on a platter with the cranberry relish. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup pecans. Serve immediately.