Our shy and elusive spring made another welcome appearance last Saturday here in Pittsburgh. How to celebrate the sun's reemergence from what seemed like an eternity of cloud cover over the city? A trip to the Strip District, of course!
I'd been thinking of making a Middle Eastern inspired Sunday roast chicken for a couple of months now, but needed a few items from Labad's (or Penzey's) to actually bring the dish from idea to reality. Somehow, crappy weather seemed to stalk an endless string of Saturdays, which caused me to huddle at home instead of braving the cold and wind of Penn Avenue. Call me chicken. I can live with it.
It may have taken an inordinate amount of time to finally roast that bird, but I can tell you the wait was worth it. The siren smell wafting from my kitchen of roasting chicken, garlic, lemon, exotic spice and honey was alone worth the drive to the Strip. But, the juicy succulence and deep flavor of that bird all by itself would have been worth dodging any winds and snow the winter could have tossed my way...yes, it was THAT good.
Do yourself a favor, don't waste your time waiting for perfect weather to gather up whatever ingredients you might not have on hand. Make the trip to the Strip now! You'll thank me later.
Roasted Chicken With Sumac,
Lemon, Garlic and Thyme
- a 5-6 pound roasting chicken (or thereabouts)
- 1 T Sumac (get it at Penzey's or Labad's in the Strip or order it online)
- 1 t thyme
- 1 T Kosher salt
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed or minced finely
- 1 lemon, zested, then juiced - juice reserved
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1 T honey (helps to brown the bird beautifully!)
- the reserved juice from above
- 1/2 C water
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees - you read that right. This technique browns the bird quickly on the outside, yet keeps it juicy on the inside.
Combine sumac, thyme, salt, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, pepper and honey to a paste. Loosen the skin on the breast of the chicken by gently running a couple of fingers between the skin and the flesh of the bird being careful not to tear the skin. Rub 1/3 of the spice paste between the skin and the flesh of the breast and rub the rest all over the outside of the bird including legs and wings.
Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and pour the lemon juice and water in the bottom of the pan.
Roast the chicken until the legs wiggle freely in the sockets, the juices run clear, and its perfectly browned. (Or until thermometer reads 165 degrees at the thickest part of the breast - AND is beautifully browned.)
Roasted carrots and sugar snap peas made quick and easy side dishes, too. Enjoy! (And enjoy this gorgeous spring weather...finally. We earned it!)