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.

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Enchiladas Verdes

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When tangy tomatillos ripen at the end of summer, I get a hankering for Enchiladas Verdes (green enchiladas) . I used to think that tomatillos were little green tomatoes, but I found out they are actually not tomatoes at all, but related to the gooseberry. The ancient Aztecs grew them and gave them the name miltomatl. Best eaten when green, they come wrapped in a papery husk, which must be removed before cooking. They are high in pectin, which helps thicken sauces. Roasting the tomatillos, chilies and garlic enhances their flavor.

Makes 8 enchiladas

Salsa Verde

10 large tomatillos (about ½ pound), husks removed

1 ½ small spring onions or 1 small white onion, peeled

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

2 poblano chilies

2 jalapeño peppers and 4 Serrano chili peppers (This will make a spicy sauce. Use less chilies if you want a milder sauce)

1 ½ tea. salt (to taste)

juice of one lime

1 cup cilantro leaves, plus a few for garnish.

1/3 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

1 tea. minced fresh oregano leaves (or ½ tea. dried oregano)

1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup

Enchiladas

8 corn tortillas

3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (1 large whole breast). See Roast Chicken

OR one pound ground turkey

½ cup reduced fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Olive oil cooking spray

You can make the sauce and filling ahead of time, then assemble and heat right before serving.

Preheat oven to 425’ Spray a baking pan with non-stick olive oil spray. Place tomatillos, chilies, garlic, and onion on baking pan.

Bake for 10 minutes, remove garlic and tomatillos, and flip other vegetables. Bake 10 minutes more, until chilies are charred and soft and onions begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool in a bowl or container. You can do this part a day ahead and pop the container in the fridge.

Toast pepitas on a comal or heavy frying pan over medium heat until they begin to pop. Let them cool, then grind them in a clean coffee grinder or spice grinder. If you don’t have a grinder, you can run them in a food processor. Reserve a few whole pepitas for garnish.

Remove stems and seed pod from chilies. Keep some seeds in for extra spicyness.

removing seeds from chilies

Remove stems from tomatillos over container or blender container since they will make a mess. Add roasted vegetables and liquid from them, ground pepitas, lime juice, oregano, cilantro, salt and 1 cup chicken soup and blend until smooth.

Bring sauce to boil in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes, then let simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce is thick and coats the spoon. If it is too thick, add up to 1/2 cup more broth.

While sauce is cooking, shred the chicken breast. Stir in about 1 1/4 cups of sauce to the chicken breast and reserve the rest. Heat sauce and chicken in the saucepan over medium heat until the sauce permeates the chicken, about 10 minutes. Let it cool until you can handle it. Again, you can do this part ahead of time.

chicken for enchiladas verdes

You can also make this dish using ground turkey. Brown one lb turkey and drain fat. Add 1/2 cup sauce to turkey and let it cook 5 minutes until sauce permeates it.

Assembling the enchiladas: preheat oven to 350’

Traditionally tortillas are dipped in hot oil before coating with enchilada sauce. I use olive oil spray to cut down on the fat. I only bake with some of the sauce, so the enchiladas won’t get soggy. I pour heated sauce on the enchiladas just before serving.

Pour half the warm sauce into a shallow bowl. Lightly spray each tortilla with olive oil spray before heating briefly on the comal or heavy frying pan. When tortilla is hot and soft, dip it into the sauce so that it coats the tortilla on both sides.

Place tortilla on a plate and place a few tablespoons of the chicken or turkey inside the tortilla

then roll it up.

Place seam side down on a baking pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray. Continue with all tortillas. Spoon the sauce that’s left in the bowl over the enchiladas (about ¼ cup).

Bake at 350’ for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle grated cheese over enchiladas.

Put back in oven for 5 minutes so that cheese will melt.

Heat remaining sauce until hot. When you remove the enchiladas from the oven the second time, pour hot sauce on and around the enchiladas. Garnish with cilantro leaves and whole roasted pepitas.

Roast Chicken

The fresh herbs and lemon give the chicken a wonderful flavor and keep it moist. Baking it breast side down allows the juices to moisten the breast meat. I do the same for turkey.

Ingredients

1 chicken

salt and pepper

Garlic infused olive oil

fresh herbs: 3 sprigs rosemary, 5 sprigs thyme, 10 cilantro, 3 sage. Use dried thyme if you don’t have fresh.

1 stalk celery, 1 green onion, and 5 garlic cloves coarsely chopped

1 lemon split in half

chicken stuffed with herbs and lemon. Garlic is pushed under the breast skin

Directions:

Remove giblets and excess fat from cavity flaps, rinse and dry chicken.

Place chicken on a large plate. Salt inside and out.Return to the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Oil roasting pan and place chicken in breast side up.

Stuff breast cavity with fresh herbs and vegetables, lemon, salt and pepper.

Tuck a few cloves of garlic, cut in thirds, under the breast skin. Smear garlic oil on top with your fingers, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

breast side down

Close flaps of skin over cavity and flip chicken breast down and oil and season the back.

Close flaps of skin over cavity and flip chicken breast down and oil and season the back. Roast at high heat (490 degrees) for 15 minutes, then reduce to 375 degrees for an hour, more or less depending on the size of the chicken.

You can bake a whole eggplant, potatoes, yams and/or a butternut squash alongside the chicken. Place them on foil to avoid getting their juices onto the roasting pan (especially the yams!)