Spiced Thanksgiving Bird

I intended to do a conventional roast chicken but decided at the last minute to make it spicy, based on Djej mechoui (Roast Chicken) from Pat Chapman’s Middle Eastern Cookbook.

His recipe called for a 1.5kg roasting chicken, marinaded in:

175ml olive oil, 60ml lemon juice, salt and pepper, plus ground spices:

½ tsp turmeric, 1tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 2 tsp baharat

Baharat (per same book) is a mixture of ground spices normally including cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, paprika (for colour) and pepper.

Spices vary greatly in flavour depending on age etc and our tastes vary too so I rarely stick to quantities specified in this type of recipe. The chicken I had was about 3kg and I don’t use very much oil in marinades because these chicken are often quite fatty although this one wasn’t. R doesn’t like too much lemon juice – too acid, tending to overwhelm other flavours – so I mixed the spices and salt in approximately the proportions suggested (small amount ground cloves, more cumin etc) and added the juice of half a lemon. This made a paste to which I added a couple of tbsps of olive oil and mixed well before smoothing over the skin of the bird and leaving it (refrigerated) for a few hours.

Roasted in normal way, 350F (180C) for first hour, 325 (170) second hour, basting with extra oil and a little white wine at half way point. Gravy made from pan juices with more white wine and water.

Saffron rice to accompany, loosely based on Iranian Rice from same book:

Boil white rice in usual way. In a small bowl heat a few tbsps milk (in microwave), add strands of saffron to steep while preparing spices:  In lidded shallow pan melt butter, add crushed but not ground spices: green cardamoms, cloves, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fry gently before adding rice. Heat rice through with saffron and spices, adding salt to taste and stirring to mix well.