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Za’atar Chicken

(Makes 4 servings)

Chicken – 4-pound, whole

Butter – 3 Tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

Garlic – 4 cloves, finely chopped

Za’atar – 2 Tablespoons (Middle Eastern spice mixture)

Lemon – 1

Olive Oil – 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin

Sea Salt – to taste

Black Pepper – freshly coarsely ground

Onion – 1/2 small

Thyme – 4 fresh sprigs

  • Heat oven to 425 Degrees.
  • Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Tuck wings under back.  Using a fork, mix together butter, chopped garlic and za’atar.  With a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, cut a 2-inch strip of peel from lemon, avoiding bitter white pith.
  • Using your fingers and a small sharp knife, carefully loosen skin of chicken from flesh of breasts and thighs.  Slip butter mixture between skin and flesh of chicken, spreading it over breasts and thighs.  Rub skin with olive oil and season generously with sea salt and freshly coarsely black pepper.  Salt and pepper cavity of chicken, then stuff it with lemon peel, onion and fresh thyme sprigs.  Tie legs of bird together with chicken twine.
  • Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.  Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 Degrees and continue roasting, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes, until juices run clear and leg joint moves easily, or an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 165 degrees, 1 to 1 1/4 hours more.
  • Remove from oven, sprinkle with a little sea salt, if desired, and let chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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