21 Feb Recipe: Moroccan Roast Chicken
Yesterday was Family Day here in Ontario when everyone gets the day off to hang out with their loved ones. With yet another forecast snow storm threatening to turn what should be a laid back provincial holiday into a muscle-abusing Shovel Day, I decided to have family time Sunday night instead. Being the ever-considerate charm that I am, I chose a dish that would please everyone. My father likes Moroccan food, my mother enjoys any meal she doesn’t have to cook, Andrew’s all about the meat and I wanted something I could shove in the oven while I dashed to the gym.
As luck would have it, a copy of Weeknight Fresh + Fast: Simple, Healthy Meals for Every Night of the Week by Kristine Kidd arrived just last week. I’ve never used a Williams-Sonoma cookbook before and wasn’t sure if we’d agree on the definition of “fresh + fast.” After all, when I go to one of their stores the kid in me wants three of everything and the adult in me wonders where I would store a bulky castle-shaped bundt cakes and even bulkier $400 cake decorating machine. But the book delivers a wide range of practical recipes using items from any well-stocked grocery store. Sure, Kid Charmian whines about the tofu, but Adult Charmian points out that only 3 recipes in the entire book use this ingredient and if there are any more complaints there’ll be no Castle Cake for dessert.
Of course, in a book with 100 recipes providing quickly-made stir fries, pastas and grilled items, I chose the one with a long cooking time. And because my bird was 50% bigger than the one in the recipe, my cook time expanded equally, but that just meant I would sweat on the elliptical, not over dinner.
When Andrew and I returned from the workout, the house smelled intoxicating, dinner was ready, and I could host a Sunday night meal looking like I’d worked all day. And the results? For a while the sunny aroma of Morocco made me forget about the impending snowfall.
Chicken and Fall Vegetables with Moroccan flavors
Excerpt from Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Fresh + Fast: Simple, Healthy Meals for Every Night of the Week by Kristine Kidd. Published by Weldon Owen 2011.
A quartet of familiar spices lend the striking flavors of Morocco to this complete meal in one. Although it takes a bit longer than other recipes to cook, once you put it in the oven, your work is done. Purchases baklava is the perfect ending.
Makes 4 servings
- Chicken, 1 (5 lb )
- Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sweet paprika, 2 tablespoons, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons
- Red pepper flakes, 3/4 teaspoon
- Ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon
- Lemon, 1
- Olive oil, 5 tablespoons
- Small, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 3/4), unpeeled
- Cauliflower, 1 pound, cutting into 1-inch florets
- Red onion, 1, cut into 8 wedges
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a heavy, large rimmed baking sheet (not a roasting pan). Pull out and discard the fat and giblets from the main cavity in the chicken. Pat the chicken very dry with paper towels. Starting at the edge of the main cavity, slide a finger under the skin over each breast half, making pockets. Rub 1 tablespoon salt all over the chicken and in the main cavity. Sprinkle generously with black pepper. Tie the legs together, if desired.
In small bowl, mix the paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, and cinnamon. Set aside 2 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture for the vegetables. Finely grate the zest from the lemon, cut the lemon into quarters, and mix the zest into the remaining places. Gradually mix in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to make a paste. Spread a little of the paste inside the main cavity and under the skin over the breasts. Rub the rest of the paste all over the outside of the chicken. Insert the lemon quarters into the main cavity. Place the chicken in the center of the prepared pan. Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the sweet potatoes in half crosswise, quarter each piece lengthwise forming wages. Combine the sweet potatoes, cauliflower and onion in a bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and toss to coat. Add the reserved spice mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper toss to coat.
Transfer the chicken to a warmed decorative pan or platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve right away with the vegetables.
With more workouts on the horizon roast chickens will be on the menu more often. How do you roast your chicken? Apples and rosemary? Old-fashioned stuffing? Or do you have other go-to dishes for when you want an uninterrupted hour or so?