Spice-Roasted Chicken

Oh me, oh my.

It’s been almost two years since I posted a recipe. I feel like I’m shouting this post into an empty theater. Is anyone even going to read this? My baby is now a toddler, and at least today, right at this moment, I feel like posting again, so here goes!

I’ll forgo the apologies about not writing, that particularly self-absorbed guilt that bloggers like to indulge in, and just say this: Food and poop don’t mix. One may cause the other but it only works in one direction.

I KNOW, I just said “poop” in a food blog. But I also resisted a cheesy math joke. So we’re even?

Ok, ok, onto the chicken. This chicken that I made twice in two weeks. This chicken that came from a need to use a hen I had in the freezer and to make dinner using nothing but what I had in my pantry. This chicken that left my never-orders-chicken husband swooning over his dinner.

Why did I say “hen” and not “chicken”? Because I killed and plucked and cleaned this hen with my own hands and it just feels right to call it a hen, to give it a bit more identity than “chicken”. But that’s a story for another day. It was an excellent bird, raised by excellent people. Dang tasty. This dish was also, fortunately, quite good with a more typical organic chicken.

The key to this dish is to let it marinate overnight. I’ve tried marinating for only a few hours and the flavor and tenderness were noticeably different.

Use chicken pieces with skin and bone intact.  If you use a whole bird, cut-up, for the love of poultry, eat those crispy wings first when they come out of the oven! And maybe don’t tell anyone else they ever existed.


Spice-Roasted Chicken

These spices are so intensely aromatic and the chicken takes on a lovely fragrance as it cooks. No sauce is necessary, but if you want one, this Curried Yogurt Sauce is an excellent companion, especially for cold leftovers. 

Serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, cut into 6 or 8 pieces, with skin and bone
1/4 cup garlic cloves, peeled
2 tsp. brown mustard seed
2 tsp. cumin seed
2 tsp. coriander seed
1 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. ground red chile (**see note)
2 tsp. kosher salt
black pepper, to taste
3 lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil

parsley or cilantro, minced, for garnish

In a small food processor, grind together garlic and spices. Add to a large zipper freezer bag with lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Add chicken, toss to coat. Squeeze air out of bag and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375F. Place chicken, skin side up, on a baking sheet lined with foil. Do not crowd onto pan; make sure there is space between the pieces. Bake for 30 minutes, using the broiler for the last 5 minutes if needed to further brown the skin.

Note: I used a red chile powder that I get from an Indian store. You can use any ground red chile (not a chili powder blend with cumin) but the spice level may vary, so adjust according to your taste. Cayenne is the most widely available chile powder.

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