Moroccan roasted chicken and buttery couscous
With Ras el Hanout, the blend of Moroccan spices in yesterday’s post, we’re only a few easy steps away from a succulent chicken dinner that will make a Moroccan daydream that much more real. This is so simple! With the first 9 ingredients you make a paste in your blender. You rub it on your chicken. You put whole or cut lemons and garlic in the cavity. You pop it in the oven. An hour later, you dine like Bogey and Bacall in Casablanca.
Moroccan Roasted Chicken
Put the following ingredients into a blender and puree.
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
- 1 Tablespoon ras el hanout (see NOTE on where you can purchase)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 4 to 4.5 pound free-range chicken
- 2 small lemons, pierced all over with a fork – or 1 larger lemon, cut into wedges
- 6 cloves garlic, un-peeled, barely crushed with the back of a knife
(In yesterday’s post I specified a chicken 4.5 to 5 pounds. I find that the smaller ones are more tender, but you can make that determination for yourself.)
NOTE on where to buy ras el hanout if you decide not to make your own: If you don’t already have most of the spices called for to make your own, it would be less expensive to buy ready-made. One good source on line is at The Spice House – http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/ras-el-hanout $6.00 for a standard 2 oz. bottle.
Preheat oven to 400°F. It’s best if you can start with a chicken at or near room temperature, so if you’re able to, remove the chicken from the refrigerator an hour or so before you begin. Rinse the chicken in cold water and dry with paper towels. Rub one-third of the spice rub inside the cavity. Insert the lemons and garlic, and tie the legs together. Smear the remaining rub over the chicken. Roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until the internal breast temperature at the thickest part registers 165°. (Alternately you can pierce the leg and make sure that the juices run clear.) Remove from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 or 15 minutes. (This allows time for the juices to sink back into the meat and not flow out onto your cutting board as you carve it.) The lemons cooked inside will be soft and full of juice and are wonderful squeezed on top and served alongside. (We liked it too on our roasted beets.)
A soft, buttery couscous is an ideal accompaniment to this roasted chicken. And again, so easy to prepare. Though I’ve made it plain here, you can add herbs, nuts, spices or dried fruits.
- 1-2/3 cups traditional couscous, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1-3/4 cups warm water
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil or safflower oil
- 2 Tablespoons butter, in small pieces
Preheat oven to 350°F. Tip the rinsed couscous into a ovenproof dish. Stir the salt into the water and pour it over the couscous. Leave it to absorb the water for about 10 minutes.
Using your fingers, rub the oil into the grains to break up any lumps and air them. Dot the butter over the surface and cover with a piece of foil. Put the dish into the oven for about 15 minutes to heat through. Fluff with a fork before serving.
You can tip the chicken to release some of the lemony, garlic-y juices from the cavity and spoon a bit onto the couscous if you like.
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The recipe for the Roasted Chicken is adapted from one appearing in Bon Appétit, January 2005