butterflied chicken with baharat and roasted chickpeas and potatoes with lemon and oregano

Nik Sharma

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I will come out and say it; I butterflied this chicken the opposite way. It isn’t exactly the end of the world, which is why I decided to share the photo and the recipe; too often, we’re our worst critics. The chicken turned out perfect with two differences – the breasts were on opposite sides of the bird, and the spine was still attached (typically, the spine is cut out from the bird during butterflying). My instructions in the recipe are for cutting the bird the “right way” so your chicken will flip the opposite way once butterflied.

Butterflying or Spatchcocking a chicken is one of my favorite ways to cook a whole bird. The bird cooks much more efficiently, the skin turns crispy all over since it is butterflied or laid flat, skin side up, and it also looks fancy on the dinner table.

Baharat is a spice blend used in parts of North Africa and the Middle East and carries a deliciously warm aroma, add a pinch of chillies to complement that heat. I use it when grilling and roasting vegetables, seafood, or meats, and even add it to stews. It’s a great spice blend to keep on hand in the pantry. Toss in a souring agent like a lemon or lime, and the dish will take on a new dimension.

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butterflied chicken with baharat and roasted chickpeas and potatoes with lemon and oregano

  • Yield: 4

Ingredients

For the Chicken

3 1/2 to 4 lb/1.6 to 1.8 kg roasting chicken

1 Tbsp baharat spice mix

fine sea salt

1/2 tsp ground chipotle

1/2 tsp ground cayenne

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb/455 g new potatoes, cut in half lengthwise

One 15 oz/425 g can chickpeas, drained

1 cup/240 ml water

For the lemon oregano dressing

 1/4 cup/60 ml fresh lemon juice

zest of one lemon

2 Tbsp fresh Greek or Mexican Oregano, chopped

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 475F/240C.

Place the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down, and cut along the backbone using a pair of sharp kitchen shears or a knife. Open the chicken, flip it over, and press it firmly to flatten. At this point, you can cut out the spine or leave it. With your fingers, separate the skin from the bird’s flesh to create a pocket.

In a small bowl, mix the baharat, 1 1/2 tsp salt, chipotle, cayenne, and olive oil. Brush this mixture over the chicken skin and inside the pocket between the skin and the flesh.

Take a roasting pan or baking pan with deep-rimmed sides and add the potatoes and chickpeas. Season with a little salt. Place the vegetables in the center of the tray. If using a baking pan or a roasting pan without a wire rack, skewer the chicken with 4 skewers to hold it securely over the pan with vegetables underneath. This will allow the drippings from the bird to fall over the vegetables as they cook in the oven. Add the water to the pan and let the chicken cook for at least 45 minutes till the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F[74C]. Baste the chicken with the drippings from the pan every 15 minutes and rotate the tray after 30 minutes of roasting. Once the chicken is done, remove the tray from the oven and loosely tent it with foil for at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

While the chicken roasts in the oven, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, zest, oregano, and black pepper, and season with salt. To serve, transfer the chicken to a serving tray (remove the skewers if using). Transfer the potatoes and the chickpeas and drizzle the dressing over the vegetables. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • You can use a knife to butterfly the chicken, but you risk slicing through the bird. It’s best to use a pair of kitchen shears.
  • Season the bird on the skin and underneath; this helps flavor the chicken.
  • If you don’t have a wire rack or a roasting pan with a rack (used for turkey), skewer the bird a few times and then place it on the roasting pan. It will achieve the same thing; the rendered fat will drip on the pan while the hot air will circulate under the bird.
  • I like keeping most chickpeas and potatoes under or around the bird. If your pan is too wide, you risk the vegetables at the ends of the pan getting too crisp; centering them closer to the bird avoids this, and they get the flavor from the chicken too.
  • As always, rice is the best accompaniment to this dish.

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