Roast Chicken with Arabic Spices

roast chicken with Arabic spices

I’ve been running to the various Halal markets buying Arabic spices: Sumac, and spices blends Ras el Hanout and Za’atar to make recipes from Ottolenghi’s “Simple” cookbook. Inspired by the recipe on the package of Ras el Hanout, I made this simple but tasty roast chicken. The skin is crisp and flavorful and the meat is moist and tender.

I’ve found that roasting a chicken breast side down yields a much juicier bird, especially the breast meat which benefits from the juices flowing down.

I surrounded it by giant shallots, since they go so well with roast chicken. I left the skins on and just cut off the ends and popped out the tender shallots after roasting.

Arabic spices

Ingredients:

  • One chicken (We spend the big bucks to buy Rocky chicken which is organic and air chilled, since it does taste a lot better and I imagine the hens are happier)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tsp Sumac
  • 2 Tb Ras el Hanout
  • 1 tsp Za’atar
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 Tb Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic granules or 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • several grinds freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, cut in half
  • 4 large shallots

Directions:

Preheat oven to 430′. Grease a large roasting pan with oil. Rinse chicken inside and out, and dry with paper towels, then set breast side up on the roasting pan.

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Mix the spices, salt and pepper with the olive oil in a ramekin or small bowl. Use a basting brush to paint the mixture all over the top of the chicken and in the cavity.  Separate the skin from the breast with your fingers, and paint the spice-infused oil under the skin. Place the lemon pieces inside the cavity.

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Flip the chicken over so that it is breast side down. Repeat the spices and oil on the back side, including legs and wings. Place shallots around the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/2 hours at 430′

Nice served with couscous.

Sumac and Za’atar Roasted Chicken

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Ground sumac and za’atar seasonings are available at Middle Eastern markets. Sumac (also spelled sumaq or summag) is made from the red sumac berry and has a lemony taste. Za’atar is a mixture of dried thyme and cilantro, sesame seed, sumac, and salt. There are different versions that you can buy or make.

?onion, sumac and za'atarPreheat oven to 450’ Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place breast up on an oiled roasting pan.

Slice an onion thinly and sauté in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil with a few spoonfuls of sumac, za’atar, and 1 teaspoon of salt until soft.

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While onions are cooking, chop 6 garlic cloves and stuff them between the skin and breast meat. Sprinkle salt on the top of the chicken and use your hands to spread garlic infused olive oil over the skin. Sprinkle some za’atar on your hands and rub it under the skin and inside the cavity.

Stuff the breast cavity with half a lemon and as many onions as will fit. Reserve the rest of the onions to serve with the roasted chicken. I can tell you from experience that if you over-stuff the chicken, the onions will fall out and burn!

Turn the chicken on its breast and salt and oil the back side. Roast the chicken breast down for an hour or until it is brown. Serve with the roasted and reserved sautéed onions.

Rainbow Chard with Arabic spices and Israeli couscous

Somewhere over the rainbow,
In my backyard,
Growing green, red, and yellow,
Organic rainbow chard.

My daughter and I invented this recipe together on Mother’s Day. We started in the backyard where we are growing rainbow chard. This grows in red, white and yellow colors.

We chop it, stems and all, and sauté with onions, shallots, garlic, mushrooms and lemon, and add  the Arabic spices sumac and coriander. When the vegetables are tender, we stir into Israeli couscous. We garnish it with cilantro, and toasted pine nuts.

Israeli couscous or Maftoul,  is shaped like small pearls and is chewier than its Moroccan cousin. I cook it in broth Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version). You can make this dish vegan by using the vegetable broth.

If only achieving peace in the Holy Land was as easy as blending Palestinian and Israeli cuisines!

Serves 6 side dishes:

Israeli couscous:
1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
1 ¾ broth (chicken or vegetable)
½ teaspoon salt to taste
2 Tb  lemon juice (Meyer lemon is nice)
Vegetables:
1 bunch chard: 10 -12 leaves and stems, washed
10 mushrooms
2 large cloves shallots, minced
1 onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp sumac
2 tsp zataar or dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup broth
Zest of 1  lemon (Meyer is best)
 
Garnish:
¼  cup pine nuts
2 Tb cilantro leaves
 

Boil 2 cups broth in a medium saucepan with salt and lemon juice. Remove ¼ cup and reserve.

While broth is coming to a boil, toast the Israeli couscous in a  skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently about 7 minutes until golden-brown. Add it to the 1 3/4 cups broth and cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes  until couscous is tender.

While  couscous is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Quarter the onion, then slice thinly.  Heat 2 Tb olive oil in heavy frying pan. Add onions, sumac, coriander, zataar or thyme, and salt. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent.

 

Cut mushrooms into quarters and add to onions.

Mince garlic and shallots and add to the onions. Sauté them a few minutes until they turn golden.

Slice the chard stems thinly, and chop the leaves. Add to the onion mixture with the reserved broth, lemon juice and zest. Mix well and cover pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chard softens.

Toss with the Israeli couscous. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh cilantro leaves if desired.

The Chicken Who Flew Across the Mediterranean

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This chicken gathered fresh rosemary, oregano and garlic from Southern Europe, then flew to the Middle East to pick up the onions, sumac, allspice and cardamom used to make Musakhkhan, the Palestinian chicken dish. Then blended it all with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, yogurt and thyme. It all combines to make a succulent  Mediterranean barbecued chicken.

Serves 4-5 adults

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¼ cup lemon juice from a medium lemon

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup plain yogurt

1 onion, chopped

10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced to make 1/4 cup

1 Tb rosemary needles

2 tsp thyme leaves (fresh or dried)

1 Tb oregano leaves

¼ tsp cardamom

¼ tsp allspice

¼  tsp cloves

2 Tb sumac (available at Middle Eastern grocery stores)

2 teaspoons of salt

10 grinds of black pepper

2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts

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Mix lemon juice, olive oil yogurt in a marinade container. Add chopped onions, minced garlic and herbs and spices. Make several cuts into the meat to better absorb the marinade. I cut the boneless breasts in 3 to 4  pieces.  Leave in marinade for about 4 hours. Barbecue on medium temperature for 30-40 minutes for bone-in chicken, or 15 -20 minutes for boneless chicken until done.  It is even more tender when cooked in the marinade in a frying pan.