I had planned to post an entirely different recipe today, but when I reviewed the photos I thought “Oh no! I can’t possibly expect people to believe that the avocado bruschetta I made tastes delicious.” I don’t know how I’d missed the fact that I’d drizzled on too much balsamic “syrup.” A thin drizzle of dark, red-brown balsamic syrup looks elegant. A drizzle of thick, dark, red-brown that’s so heavy it’s starting to pool looks like… Well, you get the picture.
But no worries! The cooking never ends, and while I brush up on my drizzling and photography skills, you can travel east. This roast chicken recipe from my cherished Ottolenghi cookbook comes together with minimal effort and gives you an incredible mix of flavors, textures and colors. It’s certainly a radical departure from the average roast chicken dish, and if you love Middle Eastern cooking as I do, you will appreciate the wonderful spice blend in this recipe.
1 large organic chicken, cut into 6 pieces
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs sumac (available in many supermarkets)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus extra
1 tsp fresh-ground pepper
2 tbsp za’atar*
4 tsp unsalted butter
6 tbsp pine nute
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern mix of spices with toasted sesame seeds. It’s used regularly on yogurt sauces, fresh bread, meats and fishes. I couldn’t find it in my Whole Foods Market so I made my own using 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 2 tsp dried thyme, 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp sumac, 1 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock, salt, and pepper. Place in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a large rimmed baking sheet–large enough that all the chicken pieces can lie flat with space in between. Arrange the pieces skin side up. Sprinkle the za’atar over the chicken and onions and put the pan in the oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the chicken is colored and just cooked through.
While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small frying pan. Add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they turn golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess fat.
Transfer the chicken and onions to a serving plate and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and pine nuts. Serve immediately with couscous a vegetable dish.