Middle Eastern Garlic Roasted Chicken with Green Harissa and Flatbread

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 55 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Inactive: 1 hr
  • Cook: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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2 heads roasted garlic

Green Harissa, recipe follows

4 tablespoons butter, softened, plus some melted for serving

1/4 cup EVOO

2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped 

1 fresh chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

One whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds), spatchcocked (butterflied open with backbone removed; ask your butcher to do this for you)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Za'atar Spice Blend, recipe follows

Naan bread, pocketless pita or other flatbread, for serving

Za'atar Spice Blend:

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons ground sumac

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Green Harissa:

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/3 cup EVOO

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 serrano or jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and chopped

1 clove garlic, made into a paste

1 small bunch spinach from the farmer''s market, stemmed and chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Cook's Note: To roast garlic, cut off the top third of each garlic head, drizzle with EVOO and wrap in foil. Roast in a 400 degree F oven until tender. 
  2. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the skins and combine with the softened butter, EVOO, rosemary, chile and lemon zest. Loosen the skin all over the chicken, then rub the garlic mixture onto the meat under the skin. Sprinkle the skin with salt and pepper. Put the chicken in a baking dish, cover and let stand for 1 hour. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Sprinkle the chicken with two-thirds of the Za'atar Spice Blend and roast for 1 hour 15 minutes. Raise the oven temperature to 500 degrees F and roast for 15 minutes more to crisp the skin. Let the chicken rest until cooled, then cut it into quarters. 
  4. Meanwhile, heat a griddle or grill pan and grill the naan until warm. Brush with melted butter and cut in half. 
  5. Divide the chicken quarters among plates and sprinkle with the remaining Za'atar Spice Blend and the lemon juice. Serve with the naan and Green Harissa.

Za'atar Spice Blend:

  1. Combine the sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container until ready to use. Cook's Note: The spice blend is great on chicken, beef, lamb, eggplant and anything grilled. You can make extra and store it for weeks. Sumac is available in larger markets and Middle Eastern markets.

Green Harissa:

  1. Puree the cilantro, EVOO, cumin, chile peppers, garlic, spinach and lemon juice in a food processor until fairly smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate or serve immediately.

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