roasted chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon
I’ve made some promises to you recently and thought with this post I might make good on a few of them at once. I’ve promised bright and fragrant dishes from sunny climates to chase the winter doldrums; I’ve promised a special Sunday dinner, and a wonderful recipe for roasted chicken. And you clever readers might have guessed too that you’d be seeing still more of Ottolenghi here. And you are. And because we’ve talked so much of onions with the last couple spreenkles, we might as well throw them into the mix as well. This is a veritable shrmorgasbord (how in the world do you spell that word? I’ll google it!) a veritable smörgâsbord of promises kept.
I’ve spoken before (in the roasted eggplant with yogurt sauce and pomegranates recipe) of two spices essential in Middle Eastern cooking – you won’t find them at Safeway or Krogers. But I hope you won’t let that deter you! You can find them on line easily (google!) or at a Middle Eastern market if you have one near you. They are Sumac (powdered deep red, tart like a lemon, or cranberries, wonderful!) and a spice blend called za’atar, fragrant and delicious! Neither is expensive at all and they’ll last you for some time. (You’ll be thinking of sending thank-you notes and possibly even flowers – I love tulips! – for suggesting you add them to your spice cupboard.)
More familiar though to your nose and palate are cinnamon and allspice. Those too become part of the amazing perfume of this dish.
I want you to know – just as an aside – that I never ever put him up to it, but sprees-grateful -guinea-pig may be chiming in on this dish. He’s positively wild for it.
The recipe is very straight-forward and simple to prepare (once you have the right ingredients.) The chicken (free-range, vegetarian-fed is best) will marinate for several hours to over-night. The flavors, other-worldly-good, and the onions, of my gosh, the onions! (You expect this from me now, right? If I love something, you won’t have a moment’s doubt about it. I l o v e t h i s d i s h ! It’s from Ottolenghi, and he’s an artist and a genius in the kitchen! Cooking is all about a celebration of ingredients for Ottolenghi, and lucky for us, we’re invited to the party.)
Let’s start with just a little celebration of the red onion, so humble, so under-appreciated and so crazy good when prepared right…
This recipe calls for two red-onions, thinly sliced…
Roasted Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar and Lemon
- 1 large organic or free-range chicken, divided into quarters – breast & wing, and leg & thigh
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1½ teaspoons ground allspice
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon sumac
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 200 ml (almost 7 ounces) chicken stock
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons za-atar
- 1 generous Tablespoon (20 grams) unsalted butter
- 1¾ ounces (50 grams) pine nuts – a generous ½ cup
- 4 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a large bowl, or ceramic baking dish, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, olive oil, spices (except for za’atar), lemon slices, stock, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking tray large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces lying flat and spaced apart. (Lining with parchment paper will make clean-up easier.) Chicken pieces should be skin-side up.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt and cook over a moderate heat, stirring constantly until they turn golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.
Transfer the hot chicken and onions to a serving platter and finish with the chopped parsley, scattered pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. You can sprinkle on more za’atar and sumac if you like.
Alongside this dish were cumin roasted whole young carrots and rice pilaf. But equally good & more traditional would be to serve it with a garlicky yogurt sauce (made with Greek yogurt, crushed garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper) and warmed pita bread.
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