Last Wednesday I picked up three whole Bell & Evans air-chilled chickens at Whole Foods at half-price. The first became a Moroccan braise with prunes, figs and plump green olives. Last night, the craving was for something lighter and more Middle Eastern, and so I turned to Melissa Clark’s recipe on the NYT food site for “Middle Eastern Herb and Garlic Chicken.”
I used her marinade ingredients, but adapted the preparation for the whole chicken, which I butterflied, instead of her choice of skinless thighs. I let the chicken marinate several hours in the fridge and then laid it out in my 12″ lightly oiled Le Creuset skillet, over a bed of sliced sweet onions. Into the oven it went for an hour at 425, looking like this:
And after a few peeks to check progress and brush with the exuding juices, the result was done perfectly and ready to cut into portions with my handy Oxo poultry shears. Accompanied by some leftover basmati pilaf from the previous chicken preparation, and a salad of greens, onions, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and feta, this was bursting with bright lemony flavors and so good I might repeat it for chicken #3 next weekend.
ROAST BUTTERFLIED MIDDLE EASTERN CHICKEN
1 4-lb air-chilled chicken, backbone removed and breastbone slightly flattened
Zest & juice of one juicy thin-skinned lemon; 4 finely minced or crushed plump garlic cloves; 2 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more for coating your pan; 2 T each minced parsley and fresh mint; 1 T fresh thyme; 1 t dried oregano; 1-1/2 t kosher salt; 1 t seasame seeds; 3/4 t Za’atar seasoning
One large sweet onion sliced into thick half-moons.
Combine all marinade ingredients (not the onions) in a dish large enough to hold the chicken and place the chicken in it, making sure to rub the marinade all over. Let rest covered in fridge for several hours. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly brush a 12″ oven-proof skillet with a bit of olive oil, scatter the onions over the bottom, and lay the chicken on top. Roast for one hour, basting with a basting brush a few times.
Cut with poultry shears and serve with the juices and onions bits. Another suggestion, which I’ll probably do next time – deglaze the pan with white wine or Vermouth, scraping up all the good stuff in the pan, and serve with that pan sauce.