Of course, since I prepped this meal during the week, I didn't have time to roast a whole chicken. Instead, I used three chicken breasts and halved the recipe. Since there was no cavity to stuff the lemon in, I sliced it up and stuck two slices on top of each piece of chicken. The cilantro and garlic were then placed in the roasting pan so the chicken would soak up the flavor as it cooked.
adapted from the cookbook Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen
Moroccan Spice Mix:
1 cinnamon stick, chopped in pieces
8 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
11/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
To prepare the Moroccan Spice Mix for the Chicken: Combine the cinnamon stick, cloves, cayenne, cumin, fennel, coriander, and paprika in a dry skillet over low heat and toast for just a minute to release the fragrant oils; shake the pan so they don't scorch. In a spice mill or clean coffee grinder, grind the toasted spices together, with 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and the brown sugar. (A word of advice: make sure you thoroughly wipe out your coffee grinder before you make coffee again - Moroccan spices taste great on chicken but horrible with coffee.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Rinse the chicken with cool water, inside and out, then pat it dry with paper towels. Massage the chicken skin with the spice rub; make sure you don't miss a spot. Season the inside of the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Stuff the lemons halves, cilantro, and garlic in the cavity and place the chicken in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Fold the wing tips under the bird and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Drizzle the oil all over the chicken. If you have time, let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes to really get the flavors down deep into the meat. Roast the chicken for 1 hour; pop an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; if it reads 160 degrees F, it's done. Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes so the juices can settle back into the meat. Remove and discard the skin from the chicken. Pull the chicken from the bone and shred the meat, with your fingers or 2 forks. Put the shredded chicken in a large bowl and squeeze the lemon halves that have cooked inside the bird over the meat to moisten.
Not a big shocker, but I really enjoyed this recipe. However, the next time I make it, I think I might go a little lighter on the cloves. This was the first time I've ever had cloves, so I wasn't entirely sure what they'd taste like. To me, it was just a little too strong.
Soon we will be closing on a house, and we'll actually have a grill. I think the spice rub would be perfect for making some chicken kebobs and serving with a light Tzatziki sauce.