Friday, August 22, 2014

Roast Chicken Mediterranean Style

I am making a much reviled protein again. Once again I acquiesce to hearty male appetites. They do love chicken and since I am in the minority, chicken usually makes an appearance at the dinner table at least once a week. I think I have mentioned a million times about my aversion to poultry. If I am to make a meal of it, it has to be marinated, saturated, brined, spiced. My chicken needs a twenty-four hour spice bath before I will deem it palatable. If not I usually give it a wide berth. 

An abundance of sumac in the kitchen cupboard reminds me of a roast I have made before. It was consumed enthusiastically as I remember. Yotam Ottolenghi provides the basis for this roast. I pick at his recipe, taking what I like. His call for pine nuts is a complete no-no. I use most of his suggestions, using sumac, roasted cumin powder and lots of lemons. In place of onions I use shallots.  Lots of olive oil and seasonings get added before it sits comfortably in the fridge overnight. Even as I divert from the Ottolenghi recipe, I feel a sense of unease. He really is a fabulous chef. His recipes are innovative, original and mainly vegetarian. The chicken recipe is an exception to his rule. 

I fashion a bed of bread. Chicken lays gently on this bed, dressed with the agents of marination. A generous pour of olive oil coats the chicken before it goes into a piping hot oven. Soon the kitchen is enveloped in the spicy aroma of a roasted bird. Pan seared wedges of sweet potato and a roasted corn zucchini orzo salad round out the meal. Wine is generously poured in anticipation of a hearty dinner.

Serves 4

8 pieces of skinless Chicken legs and thighs
2 Lemons
6 Garlic cloves
1 heaping teaspoon Sumac
1 teaspoon roasted Cumin powder
2 red Onions or 6 Shallots
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Back Pepper
3 + 2 tablespoons Olive oil
thick slices Sourdough bread

Wash and dry chicken pieces.

Slice lemons, garlic cloves and red onions or shallots thinly.

Mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil with sumac, cumin powder, salt and pepper till well blended.

Place chicken in a glass bowl. 

Pour olive oil marinade over chicken and massage chicken well so it is well coated.

Scatter lemon slices, garlic and onions over chicken. Toss everything well.

Cover, refrigerate and marinate chicken overnight or for at least 6 hours.

Let chicken come to room temperature before roasting.

Heat oven to 350F.

Arrange sourdough bread on the bottom of an ovenproof dish.

Place chicken pieces on top of bread. 

Scatter lemon, garlic and onion slices over chicken. 

Drizzle with remaining olive oil and roast chicken uncovered for 30 minutes or till done.

The chicken should be served piping hot.

Chicken comes out of the oven golden brown and crusty. Charred lemon slices emit a wonderful aroma. I spoon some chicken onto my plate. Then I take a crusty slice of sourdough, toasted brown, dripping with pan juices. This is my alternate take on chicken and stuffing. And it is delicious. A mouthful of chicken, toasted bread and roasted shallot makes my taste buds long for more. Did I just say this about chicken??? Well....I'll just have to eat my hat along with this tasty bird!