I was in the mood for a delicious roasted chicken. I love the flavor of sumac with onions so I decided to rub a fresh whole roaster all over with some of these fantastic flavors. The result was a juicy, incredibly flavorful chicken! I surrounded the chicken with yellow potatoes and plenty of onion slices, which are very important for delivering that delicious citrusy sumac flavor. This dish is reminiscent of a popular chicken dish from the Levant, called Mm’sakhan (yes, pronounced with a mmmm in the beginning for good reason 😉 ). Mm’sakhan also involves some delicious toasted pita bread and pine nuts…but that is another post. This roasted sumac chicken is an incredibly easy dish to prepare with the same great flavors. It takes less than 10 minutes to dress the chicken, and then you just let the magic happen in the oven while you do a few other things.
Sumac is a gorgeous reddish-purple Middle Eastern spice that comes from crushed flowers. You can find sumac spice in an international or Middle Eastern store (obviously), as well as some specialty stores that carry international spices. I could not find it at the local Whole Foods, however. Sumac is also that special spice Arabs use in zaatar bread, spinach pies, and Arabic salad dressings such as Fattoush. It has a strong citrusy, tangy flavor that is perfect over chicken or fish. Every chef should include sumac in their culinary repertoire!
First I dressed the chicken with a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, and a lot of sumac and paprika. Then I also generously rubbed sumac and paprika ALL OVER the chicken. It is essential to rub underneath the skin, right onto the flesh. This gets the chicken’s flavors to really stand out and keeps it very juicy and delicious. Be sure to surround the chicken with plenty of sliced onions and sprinkle them as well with the seasoning.
Cover the chicken with foil, and let it roast for 1-2 hours, depending on its size. Then remove the foil at the end and let it broil for about 10 more minutes to get a nice golden crust. Be careful not to scorch or dry out the chicken. I find it well worth it to purchase a meat thermometer, so that you could measure when you reach the desired internal temperature (160 F) and not overcook the chicken.
- one whole roaster chicken (pasture raised is best), neck and insides removed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 lemons, juiced
- 3 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp paprika
- 3 tbsp sumac, plus garnish
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
- 1 lb yellow potatoes cut into medium wedges
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and place the rack in the center.
- Place the chicken in a large oven-safe dish, and surround it with the potatoes and onions. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over everything.
- In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, crushed garlic,1 tablespoon of sumac, 1 teaspoon of paprika, remaining salt and pepper, and the olive oil. Pour evenly all over the chicken, rubbing some underneath the skin.
- Use the remaining sumac and paprika and rub it directly onto the chicken skin, as well as underneath it. Sprinkle sumac on the potatoes and onions as well.
- Put the leftover lemon halves and some onions inside the cavity of the chicken, to infuse it as it roasts.
- Cover with foil and roast for 90 minutes-2 hours, depending on the size of the chicken. Internal temperature should be 160 degrees F. Once internal temperature is achieved, remove foil and broil under high for 5-10 minutes until the chicken is golden.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Sprinkle chicken pieces with sumac to garnish when serving.