Sumac Chicken with Bread Salad

April 24, 2007

(adapted from Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day by Roy Finamore)

Serves 4

Sumac, which is sold ground in specialty and Middle Eastern markets, comes from the brick- to dark purple-red berries of a decorative bush that grows wild throughout the Middle East and in parts of southern Italy. The slightly fruity, astringent flavor (think flowery lemon) and the deep rose tint that dyes the food complements everything from fish to meats to vegetables.

1 whole chicken, cut up (removing some of the excess skin)
Coarse Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbls. ground sumac
1/4 c. olive oil, more for cooking
2 lg. red onions, thinly sliced
2 lg. garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tbls. chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 sm. round dense bread -about 3/4 lb- (such as farm bread or sourdough), cut into 1-in. cubes
3 Kirby cucumbers or 1 1/2 English cucumbers (see Note), quartered lengthwise , cut into 1/4 in. pieces; then tossed with pinch of salt
1 lg. ripe tomato, cored and cut into 1/4-in. wedges
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste

Season the cut-up chicken with salt and pepper on all sides. In a small bowl, make a paste with the sumac and 2 Tbls. oil and rub all over chicken pieces. Refrigerate for about 8 hours or overnight. If you forget this step, simply leave the seasoned chicken on the counter while you ready the other ingredients.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the onions and remaining oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Salt onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and have begun to change color (about 9-10 minutes). Add garlic and parsley; stir for about 30 seconds. Scrape all of it into a large mixing bowl and add cubed bread. Toss. Set aside.

Oil a large casserole (you want the bread in a single layer) or baking dish. Add bread mixture and spread them out into an even layer. Set the chicken on top and roast for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven. Place chicken on a cutting board a let rest for 10 minutes.

Scrape bread mixture into a large mixing bowl and let cool for a few minutes. Add cucumbers, tomato, lemon juice, and toss. Taste for seasonings and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.

Pile salad onto a serving platter. Cut larger chicken pieces into smaller serving sizes and arrange on top of salad. Serve.

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