Recipe: Roast chicken with preserved lemon

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Total time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, plus marinating time for the chicken

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from “Casa Moro” by Sam and Sam Clark. Preserved lemons are generally available at Middle Eastern markets as well as Whole Foods. Serve the chicken with steamed couscous or fried potatoes or a simple pilaf or bulgur wheat and some salad.

2 medium or 3 small preserved lemons

2 garlic cloves


1/2 lemon, juiced (keep the squeezed lemon half to put inside the chicken)

3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roughly ground

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 (3 1/2 - to 4-pound) organic or free-range chicken

freshly ground black pepper

Scant 1/2 cup water

1. Rinse the preserved lemons well under cold water. Remove the inside pulp and discard.

2. Using a mortar and pestle, or in a small bowl with a sturdy spoon, grind the garlic cloves to a paste with one-fourth teaspoon salt. Place the garlic paste, preserved lemons, lemon juice, cilantro, cumin, paprika and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor or large mortar and purée until smooth.

3. Smear the marinade all over the chicken and season lightly with pepper. (You will not need salt as the preserved lemons are already very salty.) Stuff the squeezed lemon half into the body cavity. Transfer the chicken to a dish and leave it to marinate in the fridge for about 6 hours, or overnight if you prefer.

4. When you are ready to roast the chicken, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

5. Oil a roasting pan with the remaining tablespoon oil. Place the chicken in the pan and roast until done, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting every 15 minutes or so with the juices in the pan. After about 1 hour, pierce the leg with a skewer or sharp knife; the chicken is ready if the juices run clear and will need a little more time if the juices are still pink. Or place a thermometer into the thigh, avoiding the bone; the chicken is done when the temperature reaches 165 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a board to relax for 10 minutes, loosely covered with foil.

6. To make some gravy, pour off most of the oil from the pan and place the pan on the stove over medium heat. Add the water and bring to a gentle simmer. Drain any juices from the chicken into the pan, and scrape the pan for any caramelized bits to season the gravy. Taste the gravy, and add a little water if desired to thin.

Each serving: 487 calories; 45 grams protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 32 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 178 mg. cholesterol; 318 mg. sodium.