I like to think of chicken as a blank canvas, it's brilliant at taking on flavours, especially if you allow time for a marinade to work it's magic. Za'atar is a wonderful blend of Middle Eastern herbs and spices that will transform a humble chicken into a thing of beauty.
Our brilliant Za'atar Spice Rub is an oil based marinade and comes in a handy jar, ready to use. This little marinade is packed full of flavour and pretty much all you need. I've spatchcocked the chicken which is really easy, and means the chicken will cook quicker.
This chicken is excellent served with a yoghurt sauce - yoghurt, sugar, salt, garlic plus a few saffron filaments to really dial up the flavour. I also make a couscous or bulgur wheat salad with cucumber and lots of fresh herbs.
1. The longer you can marinade you chicken for, the better - overnight is preferable.
2. Start by spatchcocking the chicken, then using a sharp knife, make plenty of score marks in the skin to allow the marinade to seep in. Make deeper cuts around the legs and thighs.
3. Using your hands, rub the marinade all over the chicken, inside and out. Leave it in the fridge over night if you have the luxury of being able to do this in advance.
4. Pre-heat your oven to 220°C.
5. Place the spatchcocked chicken onto an oiled roasting tray and arrange the sliced lemons over the top.
6. Roast for 20 minutes at 220°C then turn the over down to 180°C and roast for a further 40 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken). Just check that the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into the thigh, if the juices run clear, you're good to go.
7. Once the chicken is cooked, leave it to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
How to spatchcock a chicken It's pretty straightforward to spatchcock a chicken. Using a sharp knife, you cut down each side of the backbone and remove it. Then press down using the heel of your hand to flatten it out. If I'm pushed for time, I have just cut straight through the back bone from the middle of the parsons nose, not bothering to remove the back bone - it still works well.
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