Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sumac Chicken with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

Where have you been, woman? I know, I know! I have not posted a new recipe in nearly 2 months, and the one below is paired with a single measly photo. So sorry but I’ve spent the past 8 weeks on a sun-drenched tropical island, taking a vacation from technology and clutter to idly wander white sand beaches, stopping to eat the occasional coconut or papaya should it happen to bounce my way. Sike! I’ve been trudging through this miserable Nor’easter-heaped sludge Spring with all you fools, just busy busy busy with the other writing I do (aka the one that is paid). 
I’ve still been cooking up a storm, of course. Jam-packed days mean less involved dinners, and I have fallen in love with the sheet pan method. For the better part of an hour, vegetables and proteins are heaped together on a single wide sheet pan as I go about cleaning/laundry/yoga in my living room. Forty-five minutes later, presto! A deeply roasted, bronzed and bubbling denouement— that looks and tastes as if I’ve been slaving away for the past week— materializes right before my tired eyes.

The namesake of Sumac Chicken with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts is definitely the winsome ingredient here. Sumac, a tart, lemony spice featured in Middle Eastern cooking, is humbled with a pinch of brown sugar and smoky paprika. Both the chicken and vegetables get roasted in this sprightly rub, then finished with a lovely drizzle of fresh herbs and lemon juice. The chicken is roasted bone-in and skin-on, giving it that moist, fall-off-the-bone consistency of an expertly done rotisserie. It took my husband and I three days to finish the pan’s offerings (I doubled the recipe), and the flavors only seemed to intensify every day that passed.

A quick note on chicken: as someone who’s been a skinless, boneless chicken breast devotee my whole life, the transition to skin-on, bone-in cuts of both dark meat and light was a bit intimidating. But the fat content of these cuts is nothing to fear here. In fact, its where all of your flavor and succulence will come from. If you cannot bear the thought of drumsticks and thighs, chicken breast is fine, just make sure to follow the aforementioned preparation so it doesn’t dry out. However, I really liked using a mixture of dark and light meat. I was also blown away by the cost-efficiency of buying these cuts: at Trader Joe’s, a “family pack” (2 breasts and 4 drumsticks, all organic) was only $2.99/lb. You can also buy an entire chicken and have the butcher counter cut it up for you, which will give you a nice variety of all these pieces.

Sumac Chicken with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts (altered slightly from Cooking Light)
Serves 4

Ingredients

3 Tbsp olive or avocado oil, divided
1 Tbsp sumac
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb cauliflower florets
1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
2 lbs chicken thighs/drumsticks/bone-in, skin-on breast
1 small lemon, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, cut into ¾ inch wedges
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro; preferably, a mix
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 
  2. Combine 2 Tbsp oil with sumac, ¾ tsp salt, brown sugar, paprika, and red pepper in a medium bowl. Place cauliflower and Brussels sprouts on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add half of oil mixture; toss to coat. 
  3. Add chicken pieces and lemon slices to pan. Rub remaining oil mixture over chicken. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir vegetables. Sprinkle onion wedges over pan. Bake for 20 more minutes, or until chicken is done. 
  4. Combine remaining 1 Tbsp oil, parsley, and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Spoon parsley mixture evenly over chicken and vegetables. Serve with warm whole-wheat couscous, if desired. 

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