A simple roast chicken

close up Moroccan chicken

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple roast chicken.   If prepared properly, there’s nothing  like that crispy skinned yet tender meat from a perfectly roasted bird.

Transform a simple roast chicken into an exotic-flavored crispy creation by using a turmeric-based rub.   Start by brushing the bird with butter then generously rub in the Moroccan spice blend.   Drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil and the bird is ready for the oven.

Roast chicken, though a basic recipe, can be challenging to get right.  Often the breast is dry or the thigh is not cooked through.    Try preparing the chicken by using a spatchcocking method.   Don’t be intimidated by the term.   Think of it as butterflying an entire chicken prior to roasting.

Use kitchen shears to remove the chicken backbone.   Flip the chicken over onto a clean work surface then gently press down on the breast, making the chicken flatten out.    The result is a chicken that roasts faster and more evenly than the using the traditional trussing and roasting method.   

To get you started on your chicken roasting adventure, try making this Moroccan spice rub. I like to make a big batch and keep it in the cupboard.  You’ll find the blend of exotic flavors will spice up everything from salmon and chicken to a simply stir-fry.

Spice-Rubbed Moroccan Roasted Chicken
Makes one whole chicken

Remove the backbone of the chicken and gently press the breast to flatten the bird.  This technique, known as spatchcocking, allows the chicken to roast evenly.  Sweet smoked paprika and dried turmeric are available at specialty spice houses such as Penzy’s and the Spice House.

1 whole roasting chicken

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 orange, washed and dried, skin on, sliced into 6 rounds
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Spatchcock the chicken by cutting out its backbone with kitchen shears.  Lay the chicken flat, breast side up.  Firmly press down on the breastbone to flatten.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.    Combine the paprika, white pepper, thyme, salt, turmeric and cumin in a small bowl and mix to combine.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan with a flat rack insert.  Alternately, line a rimmed baking sheet pan that is slightly larger than the bird with parchment paper.   Place the chicken, breast side up, on the prepared pan.   Brush the chicken with the melted butter.   Evenly rub the spice mixture on to the top of the bird.  Tuck the orange slices under the bird. 

Let spice-rubbed chicken rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.   Drizzle top of chicken with the olive oil.  Roast in the preheated oven for approximately 40 to 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the breast and thigh reads 165 degrees.   Remove chicken and discard orange slices.   Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. 




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