Our 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.
Inspired 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!
In a small bowl measure sumac, Aleppo chili powder, and allspice. Add lemon zest, thyme, garlic and olive oil, and stir ingredients together.
When 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.