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Roast chicken with za’atar

September 16, 2009

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Serves 4

LoKo cofounder Marion Menzin likes this recipe, given to her by her friend Abby Glassenberg, an artist who lives in Wellesley. If you have a convection setting on your oven, use it. Flatten and cut the chicken into large pieces, as directed here, sprinkle with olive oil and za’atar, a mixture of herbs and spices common in the Middle East, and roast until golden.

Olive oil (for the pan)
1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup za’atar (available at special markets)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Rub a roasting pan with olive oil.

2. Set the chicken on a cutting board breast side down. The backbone is on top and the cavity is facing you. With poultry shears, cut along both sides of the backbone where the cartilage is thin and easy to cut. (It’s easiest to cut a little on one side and then a little on the other.) Cut until you can pull out the backbone. Reserve the backbone for making soup.

3. Turn the chicken over so the breast is up. On each side of the breast, cut through the skin and joint that connect the thigh to the breast. You now have 3 large pieces: 2 thigh/drumsticks and 1 double breast.

4. With the breast side up, press down with your hand on the breastbone to break the bone a little and flatten it. Set the pieces in the roasting pan, breast side up. Pour 3/4 cup of water in the bottom of the pan.

5. Spread the olive oil all over the chicken, rubbing it gently onto the skin. Spread za’atar on the chicken, slipping some under the skin.

6. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes or until the skin is golden and a meat thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165 degrees.

7. Using shears, separate the legs into 2 thighs and 2 drumsticks. Cut up the middle of the breast to separate the two halves. Remove the wings with a little breast meat attached to each one. Arrange on a platter. Spoon the cooking juices in the pan over the chicken. Adapted from Abby Glassenberg