Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Morrocan Spiced Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Yes, chicken is on sale again - 99c per pound! This is when we stock up on chicken for the next month or so. I usually get three or four whole chickens and hack them up into their respective chicken parts to freeze.

This is a lovely recipe. It is fragrant right from the very beginning - imagine blending cumin and garlic, then pounding that into a paste - ah, I can even smell it as I type. Also, the roasted sweet potatoes give a very subtle sweet undertone to the dish that compliments the somewhat spicy herby flavor. Bravo to the smart person who thought of using sweet potatoes in this!

It seems every chicken that comes through my kitchen gets cooked beautifully. Here's my Roast Chicken recipe that I'm sure many will also enjoy. I'm so glad to have the final journey of each bird be a beautiful and tasty one - well, for me at least. But really, buy whole chicken. I really don't need to get into the "respect for food" spiel again.



Ingredients (4-6 servings)
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (or you can use cumin powder instead)
  • 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (I used Hungarian sweet paprika from my Hungarian Chicken Paprikash recipe.)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

Method for Chicken preparation (to be done the night before roasting): 
  • Wash the chicken under a running tap until it seems clean. (Pluck off any feathers if it was not cleaned properly.) 
  • With a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the neck (keep - good for making chicken stock) and butt (throw away). 
  •  Put your entire hand under the skin of the chicken, move it around, and detach the entire chicken skin from the chicken meat. 
  • At the end of this step, the only skin that is attached to the meat would be the skin on the chicken wings. 
  • Everywhere else, the skin covers the chicken meat, but is not attached to it. This step is very important for getting nice crispy chicken. 
  • Trim off all the fat you can find. Leave as little fat as possible on the chicken. (For the some people who think fat is skin, well, it isn't.) 
  • Give the chicken a thorough massage, making sure there are no 'stiff' muscles in the chicken. 
  • Generously pour coarse salt over every inch of chicken skin and rub vigorously, like you are giving the chicken a salt scrub. (Except, you are giving the chicken a salt scrub.) 
  • With this salt scrub, you are removing the remaining feather bits on the chicken, and the thin yellow-ish layer of old skin on the chicken. 
  • Wash the salt off the chicken. (The chicken skin should now be smoother than a baby's butt.) Put the chicken on a chicken roaster, and put the entire roaster into the fridge for a night. 
  • Tomorrow, the chicken skin should be completely dry.


Method
  • Blend the cumin, chili flakes, sweet paprika and garlic in a food processor. (If you have one of those fancy mini-prep spice blenders, go ahead and use that!)
  • Transfer the blended spices into a mortar, add olive oil and salt, and pound it until it becomes a paste.
  • Rub this paste under the skin of the chicken and on the skin of the chicken. Basically, rub this paste everywhere.



  • Place the chicken in a baking dish, and add the sweet potatoes around the chicken.
  • Bake the chicken at 375F for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear.
  • When the chicken is done in the oven, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
  • Carve and serve!




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