Monday, 14 December 2009

Pot Roast Chicken with Lemon and Spices

I had a chicken in the fridge that needed eating and since I'm was going out for a Christmas dinner with friends I didn't just want to roast it, since I'm having roast bird this evening. So I improvised a bit and really enjoyed the results, so here it is.  I don't really like it when people call dishes Moroccan Chicken or something like that, even though they've just thrown some Middle Eastern spices over it.  So I won't call mine anything like that.  Its a chicken with spices that go together done as a pot roast.  Its very nice.

For the Flavoured Butter
Butter 75g
Zahtar 2 Tbs (This is an Egyptian spice mix made up of thyme, sesame seeds, sumaq, cumin, corriander and fennel).
Cumin 1.5 Tbs
Coriander Seeds 1 Tbs
Turmeric 1/2 Tsp

For Rubbing on the Chicken
Paprika 1 Tsp
Cumin 1Tsp
Zahtar 1 Tsp
Salt and Pepper to Taste

For the Sauce
2 Tsp Zahtar
2 Medium Onions Sliced
2 Sweet Dried Chillies (these should not be very spicy)
Generous Pinch of Saffron
1 Large Garlic Clove Sliced

1 Lemon
2 Whole Garlic Cloves Skin on Lightly Crushed

Start by making the flavoured butter.  To do this crush the cumin and coriander seeds and add the remaining ingredients.  Make sure the butter is softened before hand and mash together.  Lift the chicken's breast skin gently away from the flesh, creating a cavity, whilst being careful not to tear it.  Take the butter and slide under the skin and distribute as evenly as possible by massaging it along the cavity.  Cut you lemon in half and squeeze some juice inside the chicken and a small amount on the skin then stuff one of the lemon halves inside the chicken.

Heat some butter and oil in a large cast iron pot (being relatively generous with the butter) .  This must be big enough to fit the whole bird with the lid on.  Place the 2 lightly crushed garlic cloves in the pot and then proceed to brown all sides of the chicken.  If any small pieces of chicken start to stick squeeze in some of the remaining juice from the other half of the lemon to de-glaze.  The heat should be medium, but watch carefully to make sure that neither the butter or the garlic cloves burn whilst the chicken is browning.

When the chicken is browned set it aside, but leave the garlic cloves.  In the same pot fry the sliced onions and sliced dried chillies, and the zahtar when these are starting to soften add the garlic.  You shouldn't have to add any more butter or oil at this point.  Whilst you are doing this pour around 70 ml hot water in a small bowl and add the saffron to this allowing it to infuse.  When the contents of the pot are soft and have absorbed the flavours of the chicken add in the saffron and its liquid and season the whole things.  Then place the chicken on top of the mixture and spoon some of the mixture below over it.  Put the lid on the pot and place in a preheated oven (gas mark 4).  Leave it for around an hour and half, you could slow cook this for longer, checking it every now and then and basting the bird.

When the chicken is cooked remove it and reduce the liquid in the pot on top of the stove for a few minutes until it is thick and syrupy, season to taste.  Serve the chicken over rice with generous amounts of the sauce on top.

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