45-50 Minute Roasted Sumac Chicken

Sumac_Chicken_doneOur Queen Anne Diet technique of roasting chicken cuts the cooking time almost in half by raising the oven temperature to 450 degrees and removing the bird backbone, an easy process that you can ask your butcher to do for you, or cut it out yourself with a basic chicken shear (available for $10-12; I got mine at Crate and Barrel), or sharp knife. Removing the backbone takes about 1-2 minutes. The backbone can get roasted at the same time in the hot skillet, that way it is ready for broth or soup making next time you do it. Or freeze it raw for later. I store mine in a ziplock bag in the freezer after it’s cooked.

Splitting the bird down the middle after roasting (especially at high temperature) is much easier without the backbone. Serve half the chicken and wrap the other half for your next meal–it stays moist that way.

SumacChickenInspired by Melissa Clark’s Yom Kippur Chicken With Plums (New York Times, Sept. 9, 2015) we added Aleppo flakes to ours to give the rich lemony sumac a touch of regional heat (Syrian), and cooked on top of onions and pears.  Sumac is available in bulk at PCC Natural Markets and other stores, or in a four-pack of Middle Eastern spices at Trader Joe’s. Culinary sumac is derived from the berry that grows on shrubs or small trees in Turkey and throughout the Middle East. It is to be distinguished from the staghorn ornamental sumac we have in the United States. A poisonous variety of sumac with white berries also grows here. Buy your sumac, don’t make your own!


DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Remove chicken from bag, drain any liquid from the cavity, and place in the pan, back side up. I do this while standing the bird on end. Cut a small slice on top of the bag and carefully pull bird out by the legs leaving the poultry bag intact and inside the other plastic bag that you likely placed around the chicken packaging in the store. That way blood and chicken fluid does not get all over your kitchen.  Remove any neck or organ parts that may be in the cavity. I freeze the neck for soup or roast the neck in same pan. Tie up the bag(s) the bird was in and discard.
Sumac_Chicken_1
Using chicken shears or a knife (or ask you butcher to do this for you), carefully cut the backbone out of chicken, turn bird over and sit breast side up on a plate to take the chill off while the oven temperature rises. Freeze the backbone or add to side of the pan when you cook your chicken. It will then be ready for broth or soup making. Wipe or wash the extra chicken moisture from the pan.
Sumac_Chicken_3
Sumac_Chicken_2Peel and slice the onions and pear and set in bottom of the pan.
Sumac_Chicken_pearonionsIn a small bowl measure sumac, Aleppo chili powder, and allspice. Add lemon zest, thyme, garlic and olive oil, and stir ingredients together.
Sumac_Chicken_spicesSumac_Chicken_spices2When oven temperature reaches 450, place the chicken on top of the pears and onions and brush the sumac mixture over as much of the skin as possible.  You can use your hands, but if you have them wear disposable gloves as the sumac may stain. That’s what I do.

Place the bird in the rear portion of the oven and roast at 450 for 45 minutes. Take the chicken out and check that the internal temperature is 165 degrees (food safety.gov recommendations). If it is not done, return the chicken to the over and check again after 5 more minutes. The juice should run clear and the legs can easily be removed when the bird is cooked through. Allow it to sit for 5-10 min before carving. Plate the chicken nestled on top of  the cooked onions and pears. The sumac sauce that is left in the pan can be poured in a small bowl to be spooned on at the table, if desired.*If you are adding a second sliced pear, quickly remove chicken at 30 min and place the pear slices around the perimeter of the pan, and return to oven.
SumacChicken_redo

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