If you reside in the camp of bold flavors, then this bird is calling your name. Not only does it smell and taste wonderful, but the meat remains juicy while the skin gets nice and crispy. We paired ours with mixed vegetables that were grilled alongside the chicken, and an easy boxed rice dish. Some stores even sell the chicken already spatchcocked, but we prefer to buy it whole so that the extra parts can go into our poultry “body bag” and used to make stock.
To shorten the very long list of spices that make up the aromatic rub for traditional Iraqi grilled chicken, both curry powder and garam masala are used. These two Indian seasoning blends add up to about a dozen different spices at play in this recipe. Ground sumac in the rub lends the chicken earthy, citrusy notes and, along with the paprika, a deep, brick-red hue. But don’t omit the additional few spices listed!
Spatchcocked and grilled, the bird cooks in under an hour and is rich and complexly flavored, with smokiness from the grill. (If you’re using charcoal, don’t forget to open the grill vents, both on the bottom of the grill and on the lid. This is will allow airflow so the fire does not extinguish during the covered cooking time.)
In a small skillet over low, combine 1½ tablespoons of oil and the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and sizzling, but not browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
In another small bowl, stir together the sumac, coriander, curry powder, garam masala, paprika, cumin, cardamom, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture to the garlic oil and stir to form a paste.
Place the chicken breast down on a cutting board. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone, from top to bottom; remove and discard the backbone (or save to make broth). Open up the chicken, then turn it skin up. Use the heel of your hands to press down firmly on the thickest part of the breast until the wishbone snaps. Loosen the skin over the chicken’s breasts and thighs by gently working your fingers between the skin and the flesh.
Using your fingers, evenly distribute the garlic-spice paste under the skin and rub it into the flesh. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture evenly on both sides of the chicken, patting gently to help it adhere. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
Prepare a grill for indirect, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, spread a large chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents and the lid vent. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
Using tongs, rotate the chicken to bring the breast side closest to the heat. Cover and cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160°F and the thighs reach 175°F, another 25 to 35 minutes.
Brush the skin of the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Using tongs and a wide spatula, flip the chicken skin down onto the hot side of the grill. Cook until the skin is lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Transfer skin up to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve with lemon wedges.
A FOODGASM. That’s what The Hubs dubbed this dinner as we sucked the bones clean. “And in the blog, you can say that I said so.” So I took him up on his offer.
If roast chicken and potatoes are in your wheel house, then you must put this on your short list. The succulent poultry, mouth-watering potatoes, and variety of alliums, paired with herbs and seasonings all melded together into one harmonious orgy on the palette.
According to Spanish chef/author Mikel López Iturriaga, getting all the parts of a roasted chicken done just right is one of the greatest challenges of roasting poultry: when the thigh is cooked to temperature the breast is usually already dry, and if you remove the chicken from the oven earlier in order to keep the breast juicy, the thigh is still raw.
As Mikel claims, there are many tricks to overcome this dilemma, but the most effective has the name of a Lepidoptera, it’s called “butterflied chicken,” also known as spatchcock chicken. It’s about cutting the bird in such a way to leave it flattened. Not only does it have the advantage of bringing together cooking times for all of the parts, but it makes the cooking process much faster. In a half-hour, you can have it ready.
Now, as is our MO, we made a few changes. We added shallots in addition to the onions, increased the potato quotient, and didn’t remove garlic or potato skins. Count yourself lucky if you have leftovers. The most difficult part was waiting the extra 10 minutes for the bird to rest before carving and serving…
2 medium onions, or combination of onions and shallots
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 lemons, one cut in half horizontally and the other juiced
1 head garlic, outer skin removed to reveal the cloves and cut in half horizontally
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, each broken into 2 pieces
3 sprigs fresh thyme, each broken into 2 pieces
2 bay leaves, broken into halves
1 Tbsp. pimentón dulce, (sweet smoked paprika)
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
Cut the potatoes in half, and then cut each half into three wedges. Do the same with the onions. If using shallots, cut them in half from top to bottom. Place the vegetables in a baking or roasting pan with sides high enough to allow the chicken to be placed on a rack over top of the vegetables. Add the lemon and garlic halves, drizzle everything with olive oil, mix well, and place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
In a bowl, mix together 6 tablespoons of olive oil, the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, pimentón, oregano, pepper, and a generous amount of salt. Cover the chicken well with a portion of this mixture reserving the remainder to pour over the vegetables.
After the vegetables have been roasted for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven and pour the remaining marinade, lemon juice, and wine or vermouth over them. Place a rack over the top of the roasting pan and place the chicken on it, skin side up. Return the roasting pan to the oven.
After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue roasting for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken skin is golden and juices run clear. After removing the roasting pan from the oven, allow everything to rest for 10 minutes before serving.