January 29, 2010

Rated "R" for Vegetarians - Roasted Sumac Chicken

Sumac is the wonderful spice, we taste on the Middle Eastern kebabs. It is extracted from the berries of a bush that grows wild in the Mediterranean region, especially southern Italy and parts of the Middle East.
Often utilized in Arabic, Indian, and Lebanese cuisine as a rub on meats and kebabs, it can also be added to marinades, soups and stews, rice dishes, casseroles, salad dressings, dips, and many other dishes for additional elements of flavor. It can also simply be used on the table as a condiment to replace salt and pepper.
Sumac has antimicrobial and antioxidant activity.
The sumac spice was the inspiration for my roasted chicken. I used a whole, "hopefully" organic chicken, bought at Costco.
STEP 1: Defrost, wash, and pat dry the chicken with paper towels.
STEP 2: It is said that butterflying the chicken would allow more even and faster roasting. With the breast down, cut along each side of the backbone to remove it.
STEP3: Flatten the breastbone. Use your hands or a meat ponder to achieve fairly even thickness. Tuck the wings behind the back.
STEP 4: Rub the chicken with olive oil, salt, cumin, black pepper and sumac.
STEP 5: Peel couple of potatoes and cut them in 1/3 inch thick slices. Spread the potatoes in an even layer in the roasting pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pour 1 cup water. The juices and oil coming out of the chicken are enough to season the potatoes.

STEP 6: Preheat the oven to 500F. Put the pan on a middle low positioned rack and bake for 45-50 minutes. The temperature in the thickest part of the breast should be 160-165F and for the thighs should be 175F. The skin should be deep brown and crispy.

STEP 7: Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let it rest for 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and arrange on a plate with the roasted potatoes and sprikle with fresh parsley.

 The chicken was delightfully crisp and moist. The sumac added a lemony, favorable tart and tangy flavor.


  1. Please send some of this deliciousness to San Francisco

  2. Thank you, Lokuma! This is a great technology for roasting chicken. I can see it with veggies, cabbage, sauerkraut, or rice. Where do you buy Sumac?

  3. I bought it from International Food Bazaar. I guess any Middle Eastern or Indian store would carry it.
    I saw on a culinary show, that you can also grill a butterflied chicken. Just turn on all the burners except the middle one, and put the chicken on the middle, so it won't be on direct flames. I haven't tried this, but it worked on the show :)