There’s something about Mediterranean cooking that immediately gets you salivating, the use of spices that inspire flavourful aromas, awaken the taste buds and gets you going for seconds are in abundance.
Cuisines from Algeria also inspire such flavour, so this weekend we will be cooking Algerian Djedj Mechoui – which is basically a lemon flavoured chicken dish from the city of Constantine in Algeria.
This city (Constantine) is the third largest in Algeria and has a couple of beautiful picturesque bridges connecting the mountains the city is built on. You can also find museums and historical sites if you ever decide to drop by.
So if you like to try new things like I do, whip up your cooking tools and let’s get to work!
Cooking Time: 120 Minutes
Ingredients: 1 (3-4 lb) roasting chickens
2 lemons, halved
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. seasoning, mixed (a mixture of sumac, sesame, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, ground)
1 1⁄2 tablespoons coarse salt
fresh ground pepper
3-4 sprigs thyme
Cooking Method: Preheat oven to 450°F.
Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan and slide your fingers under the skin of the breast and thighs to loosen/separate it from the flesh.
Mash the garlic with the salt, using a fork or a mortar and pestle.
Work the garlic/salt paste into the butter and then work in the spices; using your fingers, spread the spiced butter into the cavities between the skin and the flesh of the chicken.
Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Season the cavity with salt and pepper and place the four lemon halves and the thyme inside.
Roast the chicken breast side down for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken breast side up and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Baste frequently, using additional water and olive oil as needed.
If the skin begins to brown too soon, cover with foil (but remove the foil about 15 minutes before the roasting time is up).
The chicken should be done in about 90 minutes; the skin between the breasts and the legs should become almost transparent, the legs should move easily in the socket, and any juices should be clear.
Let rest before carving. Strain excess fat out of the cooking juices and squeeze in some lemon juice for a lovely flavor.
You can serve this with Slata Bel Clementinas; a salad made with onions and clementines.