Friday, February 18, 2011

Roasted Chicken with Za'atar Stuffing

The weather turned cold and I wanted comfort food, something filling and hot and easy to make because I was tired. It's been a busy week at Chez Nancy with several shows to review, a big museum opening and the normal art making and writing. After today's preview of the Olmec show at the De Young, I had a sore throat and a bit of an earache. It's my own fault for going out in cold weather without a hat but sometimes my vanity (or desire not to have my hair all flattened down before a press preview), takes precedence over common sense.

Vanity, all is vanity.

Or, in this case, Roasted Chicken with Za'atar Stuffing. Lebanese is one of my heritages and I find that I turn toward Lebanese/Turkish food or Southern food when I want comfort. Or maybe I wanted something consoling after looking at all those filed teeth, flattened skulls and overbearing stone heads at the De Young. Olmec art is a lot of things but it's certainly not fun and cuddly.

 The stuffing in this recipe contains a fantastic Middle Eastern spice blend called za'atar, which is a combination of sesame seeds and dried herbs such as basil, thyme and oregano. It's something that I keep in my cupboard and use in a variety of ways. I got the recipe from Epicurious but made the following changes. 

I substituted bulgar for the bread as I had a bowl of tabouli in the fridge. I heated it up with the za'tar and then, stuffed the chicken. I put slivers of garlic under the skin and rubbed the whole chicken with lemon. But I've included the original recipe just in case anybody wants to try it. I had a small salad on the side and a huge pot of mint tea. I gobbled it down before I remembered to take a photo. The chicken is all chopped up now and 2/3 of it are going into the freezer for meals during the week, so it's not a pretty sight. But use your imagination - just think of a nicely browned chicken with salad on the side.

1 4-pound chicken
1 1/2 cups diced crusty bread
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic plus 1 head of garlic, cloves separated
2 teaspoons za’atar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper\
Special equipment: kitchen string
 Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Remove the wings and reserve.

Combine the bread, parsley, minced garlic, za'atar and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and toss with 1/4 cup of the olive oil to coat evenly. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper.           

Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper and fill with the stuffing. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Season the bird on the outside with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Place the wings in a roasting pan and place the chicken on top of the wings. Roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and add the garlic cloves to the roasting pan. Continue roasting for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the leg is pierced. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.


Zoomie said...

We will win you over to the dark side of blogging - food blogging - yet! :-) Sounds delicious, and super comforting!

P.S. How's your Mom doing in her new digs?

namastenancy said...

Mom is doing very well - making friends and getting much better care. Now, if we could only sell her house...

Oh, I'm a multi-interest blogger - food AND art AND feminism AND...

Like dear Walt Whitman, I contain multitudes.

But I have to say that food blogger are a more supportive and talkative lot. I seldom get comments, except from you (and thanks for that ). I'd love more dialogue but I haven't found the secret formula yet.

Zoomie said...

How nice to hear that your Mom is happier in her new place! Huzzah!

I got most of my commenters on my blog by leaving comments on their blogs, which drew them to mine to read. I just clicked on the names of the people whose comments interested me and left comments on their pieces, which made them curious to read mine. If you read more than one art blog, click on the links to the commenters and see if their blogs are interesting enough to continue reading/commenting. You'll be surprised how quickly you get more readers/commenters.

namastenancy said...

Ma cherie - I have been doing this for over three years plus face book plus twitter. But there are cliques within cliques and I stand for being independent, hence my meager toll of comments on art. Food bloogers seem to be a lot a lot more responsive.