Roasted Chicken with Herbs and Spices
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
Fall is nearly upon us and schools have officially begun, which means more traffic, unpredictable weather, and more obligations that can take a bigger chunk of our daily time. As schedules get more frenetic with the approach of the holidays, it’s no wonder anyone has time to slow down and prepare a healthy and satisfying dinner.
While chicken is a mainstay of many home-cooked meals, the same old recipes can get stale to the point where one can get bored of chicken. However there is one dish I lived for as a child, and that was my momma’s Mediterranean chicken, the ultimate comfort food. Tender juicy chicken, caramelized buttery potatoes, and sweet tomatoes all meld together in a one-pan dish so good you’ll want to sop up any leftovers with crusty bread.
This dish is reminiscent of the chicken served in Middle Eastern restaurants with fresh herbs, spices like cumin and allspice, fruity cold-pressed olive oil, and plenty of lemon juice for a citrusy zing.
If you have any dietary restrictions, this dish works for Paleo, Whole 30, gluten-free and even low carb diets if you omit the potatoes. If you are vegetarian or vegan, eggplant or cauliflower with chickpeas would make a nice substitute for the chicken. A unique technique that makes this dish special is that the potatoes serve as nature’s foil in the oven.
My mother puts the potatoes over the chicken so that the potatoes can brown while the chicken cooks underneath. Then halfway through roasting (after 30 minutes), she puts the chicken over the potatoes so that the chicken gets browned and the pan juices season the potatoes underneath.
To see the video on how to prepare this recipe, click on this video below:
Ingredients for Roasted Chicken with Herbs and Spices
One whole roasting chicken, cut into pieces (or 1 1/2 pounds chicken)
3 large or 5 small red or purple-skinned potatoes, skin left on and sliced
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup good quality olive oil (cold-pressed preferred)
2 tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
Lemon pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Paprika to taste (about 1 tsp each for potatoes and chicken)
Cumin to taste (about 1 tsp each for potatoes and chicken)
Dash of Allspice
8 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (but if you are a garlic lover you can put up to 10)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the lemon juice, garlic, thyme and olive oil in a food processor and mix until it looks the color of mayonnaise. Pour 2/3 of this mixture over the chicken in the pan, using your hands to coat all of it evenly. Place the chicken in a large shallow pan, but leave the vegetables in the bowl. Sprinkle the salt, cumin, lemon pepper, and paprika over the vegetables and both sides of the chicken pieces. Add an extra dash of allspice over the chicken. Place the slices of potatoes over the chicken. Slice the tomatoes, and add salt to them to taste. Place the tomatoes over the potatoes. Place in the preheated oven and bake the chicken and potatoes for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take the potato slices and place under the chicken, and bake for another 30 minutes, so now the chicken will brown. Sprinkle with parsley if desired.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the cooking show called Feast in the Middle East, and soon to be cookbook author. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond. You can check out her cooking video tutorials and cultural commentary on growing up Arab American at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv Her recipes can also be found at https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/