Pomegranate and za’atar roast chicken
- February 2019
- Serves 4-6
- Hands-on time 25 min, oven time 1 hour 15-25 min
A chicken roasted in za’atar and pomegranate juice – served with a cucumber, radish and walnut salad – makes a surprising difference to your usual Sunday roast recipe.
- 21.4g (3.8g saturated)
- 8.1g (6.1g sugars)
For 6 servings
- 1 pomegranate
- 2kg free-range whole chicken
- 2 tbsp za’atar spice blend (available from larger supermarkets or online at souschef.co.uk)
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced
- 150g radishes, quartered or halved
- 50g shelled walnuts, toasted and chopped
- Handful fresh flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Pomegranate molasses to drizzle
- Dried sumac (available from larger supermarkets) for sprinkling
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Roll the pomegranate on a work surface to loosen the seeds, then cut in half. Set a fine mesh sieve over a jug, then hold the halves over a jug to catch any juice as you tap the shells with a rolling pin to release the seeds. Remove and discard any white membrane. Set aside 2 tbsp of the seeds and a little juice for the salad, then press the remainder with the back of a spoon to release more juice
into the jug. Discard any pulp left in the sieve.
- Put the chicken in a roasting tin (see tip). Sprinkle the za’atar over the skin, then drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and squeeze over
the juice from one lemon half. Roast for 20 minutes. Mix the pomegranate juice with a good splash of water, then add to the roasting tin and roast the chicken for a further 55-65 minutes or until cooked through (a digital probe thermometer should read 72°C and the juices will run clear when you push a knife into the thickest part of the thigh).
- Meanwhile, put the red onion in a large serving bowl with the olive oil and the juice from the remaining lemon half. Season and toss to combine, then set aside.
- Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, toss the cucumber, radishes, walnuts, parsley and reserved pomegranate seeds with the red onion. Drizzle the salad and chicken
with pomegranate molasses and any juices from the tin, then sprinkle with sumac to serve.
Add pomegranate wedges to the roasting tin with the chicken for an attractive garnish. They’ll also add a slightly bitter edge to the roasting tin juices.
How to choose the best pomegranates: Generally, the pomegranates you see in the shops in the UK are the ruby red-skinned variety, but the skin colour can range from yellow/orange to deep purple. Choose blemish-free fruit that are firm to the touch and heavy for their size, which indicates plenty of juice-filled seed pods (known as arils). Pomegranates won’t ripen after harvesting but keep well in the fridge for a few weeks.
This colourful dish needs a bright, crisp white – try a Spanish verdejo or a French picpoul de pinet.
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