This is a simplified version of the traditional Palestinian dish m'sakhan, in which chicken is spiced with sumac and then roasted in the oven over bread. Sumac and za'atar that we love and use so much are combined here with fresh lemon to give the chicken a powerful sharp kick. It works fantastically well and is almost addictive. Try serving the chicken with warm pita bread and a garlicky yogurt sauce, made by mixing Greek yogurt with crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
1 large organic or free-range chicken, divided into quarters: breast and wing, leg and thigh
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sumac
1 lemon, thinly sliced
scant 1 cup / 200 ml chicken stock or water
1 1/2 tsp salt, plus extra
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp za'atar
4 tsp / 20 g unsalted butter
6 tbsp / 50 g pine nuts
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock, salt, and pepper. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking sheet large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces lying flat and spaced well apart. They should be skin side up. Sprinkle the za'atar over the chicken and onions and put the pan in the oven. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is colored and just cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they turn golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.
4. Transfer the hot chicken and onions to a serving plate and finish with the chopped parsley, pine nuts, and a drizzle of olive oil. You can sprinkle on more za'atar and sumac, if you like.
Reprinted with permission from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
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