Roast Chicken with Moroccan Spices

Inspired by ras el hanout, the earthy sweet Moroccan spice blend used across North Africa, the combination of spices used for this chicken turns its skin a beautiful mahogany brown and imparts a rich flavor to both skin and meat. If cooking the chicken in the oven, use the juices left in the pan to make a sauce by adding a little fresh rosemary and a few drops of sherry vinegar.–Steve Johnson

LC Roast Chicken Redux Note

This roast chicken redux, dear reader, is not the roast chicken that your mother made. And with all due respect, we couldn’t be happier about that fact. See, you already know how to make that. This roast chicken also deserves to be in your repertoire. Dare you to disagree.

Roast Chicken with Moroccan Spices Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 2 H
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 whole (about 4 pounds) chicken
  • 2 tablespoons Moroccan Spice Rub
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (if roasting chicken in the oven)
  • Sherry vinegar (if roasting chicken in the oven)

Directions

  • 1. Pat the chicken completely dry, inside and out. Rub the outside of the bird with the spice mixture followed by the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and let the bird rest for about 20 minutes.
  • 2. To grill the chicken, use a combination of hardwood logs and all-natural hardwood charcoal and build a small fire on one side of an outdoor kettle-style cooker. When about 1/3 of the charcoal is lit, place the chicken on the grill on the opposite side of the cooker, away from the fire. Cover loosely with the lid and open the top vent so that the fire continues to smolder without burning bright. Allow the chicken to smoke-roast for about 1 1/4 hours, turning it every 15 or 20 minutes to ensure even cooking all around. The bird is done when the thigh joints start to loosen, the juices in the cavity run clear, and the skin is a beautiful mahogany brown. An instant-read thermometer should register 165°F (74°C).

    To roast the chicken, preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C) and adjust the oven rack to the center position. Place the chicken in a cast-iron skillet on the center rack and turn it every 20 minutes to crisp the skin all over. After about 1 1/4 hours, or when the thigh joints begin to loosen and the juices inside start to run clear, the chicken should be ready. An instant-read thermometer should register 165°F (74°C).
  • 3. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes, then cut it into pieces. If the chicken was roasted in the oven, you can use the juices left in the skillet to make a sauce by adding a sprig fresh rosemary, a few drops sherry vinegar, and a pinch salt, whisking to blend. Serve the chicken while still warm.
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Testers Choice

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Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Sep 30, 2013

This roast chicken is WONDERFUL. The author says this is inspired by ras el hanout, translated as head of the shop, meaning a house mixture of the finest spices at a given spice dealer. When you make this “rub” you may be surprised by the amount of leftover mixture, but trust me, you’ll be thrilled that you have this on hand. I use it on roasted potato dishes and I put it under the skin to bake any chicken parts. I’ve even been known to add it to my fried chicken batter. Enough about the spices—on to the chicken. I loved roasting the chicken in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Turning the chicken twice during roasting did indeed allow the chicken to be crisp on all sides. I put a few rings of sweet onion under the bird (out of habit) to keep it from sticking to the pan, and pulling the skin off.

The chicken was very moist, including the breast, and had very crisp skin. Finally, if you do make this in the oven, which I highly recommend, please don’t skip the rosemary and wine vinegar for drizzling. This recipe uses 16 spices, yet is very easy to prepare; at the same time the texture and flavor are rich and complex. Make this dish; you’ll not be sorry!

Testers Choice
Kristen Kennedy

Sep 30, 2013

The smell of this chicken cooking should be reason enough to make it. We roasted it in the oven at 350°F for 1 1/2 hours (our bird was almost 5 pounds) and served it with carrots sautéed with ginger and orange. The bird turns a gorgeous dark brown and the spices permeate the meat with quite an exotic flavor. I’m using the carcass to make chicken stock today—smells divine! The spice rub makes oodles; I can’t wait to try it on chicken thighs later this week!

Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Sep 30, 2013

A perfect roast chicken recipe with virtually no effort. This recipe produced an amazingly moist chicken with a crisp skin. The color was a dark mahogany and looked divine on a white platter surrounded by summer veggies. I used a 4-pound organic chicken. The time was bang on and in 1 hour 15 minutes I had a wonderful meal ready. The instructions on the recipe are accurate.

I also had another 4-pound organic chicken, which I smoked using a bullet smoker. The chicken was moist and tender; however, this didn’t produce a crisp skin.

As for the spices, I used cumin seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries, and cinnamon sticks and ground them.

Testers Choice
Jill Mulcahy

Sep 30, 2013

This recipe is wonderful if you can actually do it on a charcoal grill like I did. The taste is a wonderfully smoky, spicy flavor with a very low heat level that makes it very enjoyable. And the meat was so incredibly moist with just a faint tinge of pink to it from the smoke.

There was a bit of an issue, however. It took me about 3 1/2 hours to roast my chicken until it reached 165°F. I think even with a very hot fire on the far side of the grill, removing the lid every 15 to 20 minutes slowed things down since, just like an oven, you lose a lot of heat every time you open it and it takes time for the grill to recover. I think if there was a way to get around the heat loss/timing issue this would be perfect, but even without being able to do it in the time given it’s still wonderful.

Testers Choice
Connie Lewis

Sep 30, 2013

This is the third roast chicken recipe from this site that I’ve tested and that I’ll add to my repertoire. This recipe, like the other two, called for a lower oven temperature than I’m accustomed to, and I’m guessing that this is the reason the meat stays so succulent. (It’s certainly the reason I haven’t had to clean the oven after every roast chicken feast.)

The recipe doesn’t say whether or not to truss the bird. Maybe you don’t need (or want) to truss if you’re grilling; but I always truss a chicken when I’m roasting it in the oven. It may not work, but next time I’m going to make a paste of the spice rub and the olive oil. I think I’ll tinker with the spice rub a little, primarily by cutting down on the amount of cumin and the hot chili powder, which rather overwhelm the other spices. There was precious little sauce. Next time I think I’ll deglaze with some white wine, and I probably won’t add either salt or rosemary.

Testers Choice
Michael Shoup

Sep 30, 2013

I made this in the oven. It turned out juicy, with great color and flavor—a fantastic way to change up your normal roasted chicken.

The only problem I had with this recipe is that the skin didn’t get all that crisp. The problem was that the skillet didn’t really get hot enough to crisp the skin until the end of the cooking time. Maybe this could be fixed by preheating the skillet with the oven? I’ll definitely make this again, but will probably just use my normal roasting method, at a much higher temp.

Testers Choice
Joel Jenkins

Sep 30, 2013

This beautiful chicken makes a nice presentation, so allow your guests to see it while it’s resting before you carve it—kind of like letting people see the cake before you cut it. I used a gas grill without any problems, I just heated it up and then turned off one side and set the other side on low. I also added some apple wood chips to add just a tad of smokiness that would have been missing without the charcoal or hardwood. Although you may be tempted to cut the recipe for the spice rub since the recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons, I recommend against it. First of all, it is hard to divide it, but even better, this makes a great rub for pork and turkey and everything else I could come up with….


Comments
Comments
  1. Francis says:

    Jill Mulcahy – butterfly the chicken. It will be quicker.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      That’s definitely one option to propel this recipe into the weeknight realm! Many thanks, Francis. One could also use chicken pieces—either from a whole chicken or just dark or white meat—to cut down on the roasting time and also the carving time.

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