African Flavors: Sumac roast chicken with lemon and garlic

African Flavors: Sumac roast chicken with lemon and garlic

Yield: 4-6 servings

Chef's note: this recipe requires two days of preparation. Day One is for the brining; Day Two is for the rub and roasting of the chicken. Preparation for Day Two can be made in advance.


Day One

For the brine

12 cups cold water

1/2 cup kosher salt, plus more

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

5 sprigs fresh rosemary

5 sprigs fresh thyme

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds)

3 lemons, thinly sliced

Day Two

For the roasted garlic

2 heads garlic, roasted

1 tablespoons olive oil

For the sumac/lemon zest rub

2 tablespoons sumac

1 lemon zest, finely grated

For lemon/herb stuffing and roasting the chicken

Brined and drained chicken

Salt and pepper, to cover the chicken before roasting

5 sprigs fresh rosemary

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 clove garlic, minced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

Method of Preparation

Day One: Brine the chicken.

1. Bring four cups of the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, sugar, peppercorns, five of the rosemary sprigs, five of the thyme sprigs, the crushed garlic, and lemon slices until the sugar and salt dissolve. Then, pour the brine into a large bowl and stir in eight cups cold water. Submerge the chicken into the brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Day Two: Prepare the sumac/lemon zest rub; roast the chicken.

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. For the roasted garlic, drizzle one tablespoon of oil equally over the two heads of garlic. Wrap in foil and set aside until ready to roast the chicken.

3. For the rub, combine the sumac with the lemon zest in a small bowl. (This can be done in advance).

4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator; drain and discard all of the brine. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

5. Using your fingers, gently separate the skin over the chicken breasts and thighs, and place the sumac/lemon zest mixture between the skin and meat. Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper.

6. For the lemon/herb stuffing, use your hands to toss the rosemary and thyme sprigs with the minced garlic, lemon slices, and olive oil. With the remaining oil on your hands, rub the outside of the chicken, dipping back into the oil mixture as needed. Open the chicken's cavity and place lemon/herb mixture inside. Transfer the chicken to a roasting pan with the heads of garlic and roast until golden brown for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Chicken is cooked when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 160 degrees.

7. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes.

8. To prepare a sauce, unwrap the garlic heads, slice in half crosswise, and squeeze the cloves into the roasting pan that held the chicken. Whisk the garlic with the pan juices, scrape into a bowl, and serve the sauce alongside the chicken.

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