It’s a little presumptuous of me to call this Middle Eastern chicken when I have no idea how Middle Easterners cook their chicken at all. Right? I took the liberty to name it such because 2 years ago, I found a recipe for some spice blend that was labelled Middle Eastern Spice. I followed the recipe and made a few jars of the spice blend for my family and every one of them loved it! (speaking of which, it’s time to make more.)
So for this recipe, while I didn’t follow that original recipe verbatim, I used pretty much the same spices and dunked rough amounts as per my taste and liking. And yes, I really liked the result! It’s interesting that Asians, Middle Easterners, Indians, Africans and so many other countries base their food around roughly the same sort of spices. I’m not speaking dogmatically but rather via my personal experience and observation. And this gets me excited because using that same few spices, I can experience tastes and flavours of so many different countries around the world! It’s amazing how different spice ratios change the flavours of food.
So getting down to this roast chicken dish, I started by gathering the cast of characters:
Whole Chicken, Russet Potato, Sweet Potato, Garlic, Onion, Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Ground Ginger, Ground Coriander, Cumin Seeds, Ground Black Pepper & Sesame Seeds
I’d recommend seasoning the bottom before flipping it over into the roasting dish and seasoning the skin part. I know I’m stating the obvious but I made the mistake of seasoning the top first more times than I care to remember. Then realize that the spice has fallen off the skin when I flip it over to season the underside. And not have any spice left to top up. Yeah… learn from my silly d’oh moments.
Or if there’s less than a dozen people around the table, in our case just 2 of us, I’d recommend using a cleaver or kitchen scissors to portion this out so the untouched pieces can be saved for future meals.
If you excuse the mess I created while cutting this up, you can see how juicy the meat still is because the chicken is not overcooked due to the shorter cooking time. Very often, the breast meat gets drier because it has to sit there waiting for the thighs to be ready. But now, both parts are cooked at roughly the same time and hence locks in the valuable juices.
If you haven’t spatchcocked a chicken before, I recommend that you try it out! It’s both pretty and makes cooking so much easier. 😉
“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (Acts 17:29)
Middle Eastern Roast Chicken
1 (±1.7 kg or±4 lbs) air-chilled Chicken, spatchedcocked (directions above)
1 Russet Potato, cut into wedges or chunks
1 yellow Sweet Potato, peeled & cut into chunks (same size as potatoes)
1 Yellow Onion, peeled & thickly sliced
2 bulbs Garlic, bottoms lobed off
3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Salt, separated use
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp ground Ginger
1 tsp ground Coriander
1/2 tbsp raw Sesame Seeds
- Preheat oven to 200 C or 400 F.
- In a large roasting pan or glass bakeware (I used a 9 x 13 Pyrex), toss potatoes, onion and garlic in olive oil & 1 tbsp salt. Arrange so that potatoes are at the edges of the pan & onions are laid out at the centre for the chicken to sit on.
- Mix up spices & sesame seeds in a bowl together with the remaining 1 tsp salt. Scatter 1/2 of the spice blend on the underside (flesh side) of the chicken. Turn the chicken skin side up and place on onion slices in the pan. Scatter the remaining spice blend evenly on the skin.
- Roast chicken for 40 mins or until potatoes are tender, chicken is golden brown & juices run clear when pricked near the thighs.
- Serve whole with boiled vegetables or cut into smaller pieces.
- Reserve juices, skimming off fat, to serve alongside chicken as sauce.