Saturday, November 30, 2013

Moroccan-spiced Roast Chicken

I was inspired to make a Moroccan-style roast after having some super tasty barbecued chicken at Gladstone Park Bowling Club recently. They also served up the most amazingly crispy and delicious roasted potatoes. Best I've ever had. I'm still trying to figure out they made those potatoes, and if I do, you'll see it here first! Anyway, I came across this recipe for Moroccan-spiced roast chicken and thought it might be close to what I was searching for. Well, it turned out really good, and I loved the idea of tossing the cauliflower and sweet potatoes with the spice mix. This is a nice change from the usual lemon and herb roasted chicken I usually make for the family. And with summer just around the corner, this spice rub will be perfect for barbecued chicken wings and thighs.

Moroccan-spiced Roast Chicken
Adapted from Leite's Culinaria
One whole chicken (1.8kg / 4lbs)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 lemon
tablespoons olive oil
2 small orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, unpeeled
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets
1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges 


1. Preheat the oven to 430°F (220°C). Slick a heavy large rimmed baking sheet–preferably not a roasting pan, but if you do use a roasting pan, make it a big one–with a little oil.

2. Pull out and discard the fat and giblets from the cavity of the chicken. Pat the chicken very dry with paper towels. Starting at the edge of the main cavity, slide a finger under the skin over each breast half, making a pocket between the skin and meat. Rub a total of 2-3 teaspoons of salt over the chicken skin. Toss some extra salt inside the cavity. Sprinkle the chicken generously with black pepper. Tie the legs together, if desired.

3. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, cumin, chilli flakes, and cinnamon. Set aside 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture for the vegetables. The rest is for the chicken. Finely grate the zest from the lemon, cut the lemon in two, and mix the zest into the spices for the chicken. Gradually mix in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to make a paste. Spread a little of the paste inside the cavity, slather some of it under the skin over the chicken breasts, and rub the rest of the paste all over the outside of the chicken. Stuff the lemon inside the cavity. Place the chicken in the center of the baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and if it browns too quickly cover it loosely with a sheet of foil.

4. Meanwhile, cut the sweet potatoes in half crosswise, and then quarter each half lengthwise to create wedges. Combine the sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and onion in a bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and toss to coat. Add the reserved spice mixture, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

5. After the chicken has roasted for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven. Arrange the vegetables around the chicken. Return the pan to the oven and continue roasting until cooked (about another 40 minutes). (Note: the bird will take longer to roast if the legs have been tied together).

6. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables.

Oh so juicy!