This is the best roast chicken I’ve ever made, and that is not a claim made lightly….
The meat is moist and delicious, the pan sauce otherworldly, and all of the components come together to create a beautiful new flavor. The star is our new Middle Eastern Tea Rub, delightfully balanced with an exotic depth which unites all of the flavors of the dish, while the subtle smokiness of the tea brings the pan sauce to storied heights. Finally, if you have extra room in your pan, go ahead and throw in a few vegetables. We had a sweet potato and a few baby reds on hand.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the tea rub, honey, olive oil, orange zest and orange juice. Stir well to combine and set aside.
Rinse the chicken with cold water inside and out, then pat dry.
In a mortar & pestle, crack open each black lemon with one good whack. Insert the cracked black lemons into the cavity of the chicken, and sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the outside.
Rub the spice-honey-orange glaze evenly over the outside of the chicken. Transfer the chicken to a large, lightly oiled cast iron skillet and pour any remaining glaze on top.
Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, and then baste with pan juices. Return the chicken to the oven and cook 30 minutes more. If the top of the chicken starts getting too dark, tent with foil. Check the temperature, the chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees at the thickest part of the thigh.
Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and remove the meat from the bones. Place the meat back in the skillet with the pan juices and warm over low heat.
Serve the meat and juices over a warm grain pilaf with roasted vegetables.
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Much credit is due to my colleague and co-author of World Spice at Home, Julie Kramis Hearne, whose recipe for honey-glazed chicken was adapted for this recipe. If you’ve never roasted a chicken in a cast iron skillet, as she suggests, now is the time. It’s the pan that never disappoints.