This recipe is from Ottolenghi The Cookbook. What can I say – I think he is a true master with food, one of my food heroes! Making this dish like most others from this book is pure joy. Just mixing up the chicken with the marinade and its spices, the cinnamon, sumac, all spice and the fresh cut lemons will mingle together and make your kitchen smell amazing. And the yellows and purples of the lemons and onions do make it look just beautiful. If you don’t have sumac and za’atar then you really must head to your nearest middle eastern grocery and get some, truly its worth having in the cupboard just for this dish alone. But once you do have them, you will open a world of other dishes you can cook. Some other essentials I like picking up while at the middle eastern stores are pomegranate molasses, orange flower water, rose water (Cortas brand for all these is pretty great), and tahini paste (not the health food variety but Palestinian or Lebanese brands like Al Wadi). I like to have these in the kitchen cupboard so whenever inspiration strikes I can just start cooking!
This dish is really great served with some warm wholemeal pita breads, and nice salads. You can marinade the chicken for a few hours or a day earlier, I just marinated for an hour before on this occasion and it still was full of flavor and really tasty. I really like a lot of garlic so I increased the amount of garlic to 5 cloves from 2, for me this was really perfect. While baking in the oven I must say beautiful mouth-watering smells shall fill your house, it’s a really great dish for an easy family dinner or for dinner with a few friends. The convenience factor is really great as it allows you to marinade earlier and prepare ahead and just whack it in the oven 40 minutes before you want to eat. At the end you simply toast some pine nuts with butter and sprinkle on top along with fresh parsley.
1 large chicken, divided into quarters, breast and wing, leg and thigh, or 4 large leg & thigh pieces
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp sumac
1-2 lemons, thinly sliced
200 chicken stock or water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp za’atar
20 g unsalted butter
50 g pine nuts
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock or water, salt and pepper. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.
2 Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking tray large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces lying flat and spaced apart. They should be skin-side up. Sprinkle the za’atar over the chicken and onions and put the tray in the oven. Roast for 30-40 min, until the chicken is coloured and just cooked through.
3 Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt and cook until they are golden. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the fat.
4 Transfer the hot chicken to a serving plate and finish with the chopped parsley, pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. You can sprinkle on more za’atar and sumac, if you like.