Mussakhan: Baked Chicken on BreadJan 26th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: blog, cook something, meat and poultry
One of the perks of producing the radio show Field & Feast and this website is getting to taste many of the recipes my guests prepare. And more often than not I “discover” something new.
During my visit with Sahar Arafat-Ray, I discovered the seasoning called Sumac. It was, and remains, a revelation.
Sahar told me that sumac is a spice from a bush by the same name. The “berries” are usually sold dried and ground in Middle Eastern markets. Sumac is used to give a lemony, astringent flavor to foods. It is used in the spice mix Za’atr, to spice meats for kebabs, and even sprinkled on eggs and vegetables. It has a deep red to burgundy color.
It is not to be confused with the ornamental sumac bush found commonly in the US and Europe.
Sumac is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, and imparts an intriguing flavor to the following dish.
- 2 whole frying chickens, halved (approx. 4-1/2 – 5 lbs) or 10-12 chicken thighs
For the Marinade
- 1/4 c. dried sumac (be sure it’s fresh)
- juice of 1 lemon (1 tbsp.)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. allspice
For the onions
- 3 lg. onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. sumac
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1/4 c. pine nuts (as these can be pricy, you may omit them if necessary)
For the Pan
- 3 loaves pita bread, split
- 1/4 –1/2 c. olive oil
- 1/4 — 1/2 c. chicken broth
- Cooking oil spray
Preheat oven to 375º F
- Wash and dry the chicken and place in a large bowl or zip bag. In a small bowl mix together 1/4 cup sumac, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and allspice. Pour over the chicken, making sure the chicken is covered in the marinade. Let sit for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight. The longer you let the chicken sit in the marinade, the stronger the flavor. [NOTE: The chicken may turn nearly purple from the marinade.]
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, salt, and sugar. Lower the heat to medium-low. Slowly cook the onions until they are very soft, but not caramelized. Stir in the sumac and pine nuts. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
- Spray a deep baking dish. Lay the bread over the bottom of the dish. Spread the onions over the bread. Remove the chicken from the marinade and lay over the onions. Pour over another 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup chicken broth. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, uncover the chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is done, about another 20 – 30 minutes. (Or until an instant-read thermometer registers 150F when inserted into the thigh.)
- Serve the chicken with rice and LOTS of yogurt.