Za’atar Roasted Chicken

aka, the new default

Roasting chickens is a cherished activity in the fruitman kitchen. Juicy, affordable, delicate, nothing compares to a perfectly roasted bird, and nothing, my dear fruit family, compares to the game changer on this chicken: Za’atar.

Za’atar is a spice common to the Middle East, though becoming more popular by the day in the rest of the world. It’s not always available in regular supermarkets, though you can find it at your local specialty grocer. It’s a blend of sumac, sesame seeds, cumin+coriander, and dried green herbs. In fact, there is not one single recipe, it’s more of a state of mind. To my palate, this blend has a stunning balance of bright citrus and floral notes carried on earthy, ancient, base notes. Friend of Fruitman Kitchen Haley Kattner Allen scored a giant container of it, but soon thereafter found out she is allergic to it. We accepted her gift in the kitchen and we also noted the expiration date, 9/22/2022. Now, OK, you might think that this is a lifetime to use it all up, but in this kitchen, we know that spices lose their brightness about a year and a half before they expire. So that means we need to use it all up by May, thus, Za’atar’mageddon. In Islamic theology, the Armageddon is mentioned in Hadith as the Greatest Armageddon or Al-Malhama Al-Kubra, or the great battle. We do not waste food in the Fruitman Kitchen, and our great battle here is to do the za’atar justice and use it in as many recipes as we can before it goes bad. Welcome to this journey.

Roasting a bird on the weekend does wonders for mental health, makes the house smell wonderful, and leaves a small bounty for the next days: breast meet for salads, chicken bones for a stock to make soup later, a chicken wing to eat in the middle of the night like a thief.

Total preparation time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Pineapples: 5/5 🍍 🍍 🍍 🍍 🍍
Read before committing: It’s really not that hard and if you don’t have za’atar, this recipe still works.

A whole chicken
Salt and Pepper
1/2 Stick of butter (1/4 cup)
1 lemon
Olive Oil
Root vegetables like potatoes/carrots/turnips

Preheat oven to 375
Take the chicken out of its packaging, wash it with water, then pat dry with paper towel.
Put salt and pepper on the inside and the outside of the bird.
Start rubbing the za’atar all over the bird, including inside, use more than you think.
Melt the half stick of butter in a pan and toss a handful of za’atar in there.
Once the butter has melted, drizzle it over the chicken as well as under the skin of the chicken. You might need to use a knife to pull apart the skin.
Cut the lemon in quarters and put them inside of the chicken.
Line a tray with foil (to help with clean up) and line the bottom with chopped root vegetables, big pieces are OK.
Lay the chicken on top and put it in the oven.
Start checking it after about one hour with a thermometer, it should read 165F. If you don’t have a thermometer, try to feel the leg joint, it should start feeling loose. You can also look for a deep bronze color, that is accurate too.
(a three and a half pound bird takes about an hour and twenty minutes)
Pull the chicken out and let it sit untouched for ten minutes, this is a good time to set the table.
Carve it up, enjoy, and save the bones for a soup stock later 🙂

That’s Deja demonstrating how to get under the skin