Dry-brine the chicken:
Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt; set it on a wire rack and set the rack over a plate. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours (4 hours is better) or up to two days.
Roast the chicken:
Position a rack in the lower middle of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Cross the chicken leggs and tie them together; tuck the wings under the chicken. Brush the breast side of the chicken all over with some of the olive oil; sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the sugar and a few grinds of the pepper. Set the chicken, breast side down, on a V-rack set in a small metal roasting pan (about 9 x 13 inches; don't use ceramic or Pyrex). Brush the back side of the chicken with the remaining oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. sugar and a few more grinds of pepper. Have ready 1 cup water and turn on the exhaust fan.
Roast the chicken, breast side down, until the back is deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Check frequently and if the chicken drippings appear to be burning, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the water to the pan.
Remove the chicken from the oven. With a wad of paper towels in each hand, turn the chicken so it's breast side up. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tsp. sugar and add all or what remains of the 1 cup of water to the pan. Return the chicken to the oven and roast, breast side up, until the chicken is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 175°, another 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
Make the pan sauce:
Remove the V-rack from the roasting pan and tilt the pan so the juices collect in one corner. Spoon off and discard as much of the clear fat as possible. Set the pan and its degreased juices aside.
Combine the broth, orange juice concentrate, and vermouth; set aside. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves; sauté until fragrant and golden, less than 1 minute. Add the apricots and prunes and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the broth mixture and degreased juices from the chicken roasting pan; simmer until reduced to about 1-1/2 to 1-2/3 cups, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a serving vessel and serve alongside the carved chicken.
A fruity, slightly sweet white wine would be delicious. Try the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier from California or the Chateau Ste. Michelle “Eroica” Riesling from Washington State.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on 1/4 cup sauces;
Photo: Scott Phillips