I love inviting my friends and family over for lunch. Our apartment in Sydney is fantastic for entertaining. We have a lovely view and the place just has good vibes when filled with people. These days, cooking for my family and friends feels really special since most of them live more than an hour away and I don’t see them all the time.
When I’m entertaining, I want to make it special but I’ve learned that fussy dishes that require a lot of tending and stirring and precise timing are way too stressful. No one likes being stuck in the kitchen instead of hanging out with your guests! I have shared a few of the tips I’ve learned about entertaining over the years in this blog post.
Roasted chicken is an absolute classic for a reason and a dish that I think everyone should learn to make. It’s a crowd pleaser and you can add almost any flavour you like. I managed to find an organic free range butterflied chicken at the supermarket which was perfect for this recipe.
You can use a regular chicken but buying one already butterflied (or learning to do it yourself – hello Youtube!) will help it cook more quickly and evenly. You could also do this with chicken pieces if a whole bird seems a little overwhelming. Don’t worry, this was me for years before I got the courage to roast a whole chook on my own!
This time I wanted to do a really punchy spice paste that would give the chicken a lot of flavour. I had some store-bought harissa (although I really want to make my own next time) as well as pomegranate molasses and a bunch of spices from my cupboard. I used sumac, paprika, garam masala (a spice blend with delicious things like fennel, cinnamon, cardamom and caraway) and a touch of cayenne pepper.
Pomegranate molasses has been a favourite ingredient of mine for a while. It is a reduced syrupy pomegranate juice that is tangy, a little sweet and has a great depth of flavour. I love adding it to marinades for ribs or roast meats and as a secret ingredient in homemade barbecue sauce. It worked perfectly with all the strong spices, adding some sweetness that helped balance the spicy harissa and cayenne. You can find it at Harris Farm or any middle eastern grocery store.
The chicken skin turned golden and a little crispy in the oven and the meat was perfectly cooked. I served my roasted chicken with an extra drizzle of pomegranate molasses and tons of fresh pomegranate seeds for colour and crunch. I also scattered over some fresh coriander and some flaked almonds that I toasted in the oven for about 5 minutes. I really loved the combination.
On the side I made some harissa roasted carrots that had a nice hit of spice and some nice fluffy cous cous. Roast carrots are a favourite side dish of mine, especially when I am making a main course with a Middle Eastern influence. This lovely Sunday lunch all came together really easily. The oven did almost all the work, which means it could also work as a weeknight dinner too.
If I was making this for just my housemate and I, we would use the leftover roasted chicken in a pasta dish or a wholesome soup. I also love to take the bones and make a chicken stock overnight in my slow cooker. I’ve recently started a little zip lock bag in the freezer for scraps like carrot tops, onion skin and herb stalks that would otherwise be tossed in the garbage, but are great for throwing into a chicken stock.
Related Post: One Pot Moroccan Chicken
Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots
Roasted Chicken is a crowd-pleasing classic and perfect for entertaining because the oven does all the work! It’s served with a delicious spice rub and fresh pomegranate, coriander and almonds for colour and crunch.
- 1 free range chicken, butterflied (about 1.6kg)
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- Plenty of Salt & pepper
- 1 bunch baby carrots, washed and greens chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon harissa paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt & pepper
- Pomegranate molasses, extra, to drizzle
- 1 fresh pomegranate
- 1 bunch Coriander
- 1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted in the oven
- 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
- Cous cous, made according to packet instructions
Take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook it. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
In a small bowl, mix together the sumac, paprika, garam masala, cayenne pepper, harissa paste, pomegranate molasses and olive oil with some salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Rub the spice mix all over the butterflied chicken and place into a skillet or a roasting dish.
Meanwhile, arrange the carrots on a flat baking sheet. Stir together the olive oil, harissa, paprika, salt and pepper. Using a pastry brush, coat the carrots evenly in the harissa oil mixture.
Place the chicken and carrots into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and cooked through. Check it at the 20 minute mark and rotate the trays. If the chicken is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil. The carrots may be done sooner if they are very small.
To serve, drizzle the chicken with extra pomegranate molasses and top with fresh pomegranate, coriander and flaked almonds. Transfer the carrots to a serving dish and drizzle with pomegranate molasses, and top with pomegranate and crumbled feta. Serve immediately with cous cous.