I stumbled across zatar on a visit to a local ethnic market. I thought I knew my spice blends, but I had never heard of this one. I bought a bag, went home, and fired up the Internet to find out what it was.
Zatar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture, made up of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt. At least, that’s the base version – there are lots of regional variations. It is a general seasoning blend – sprinkled on meat, vegetables, and pita bread, or mixed with olive oil for use as a dip.
*The name changes a lot as it gets translated into English. Wikipedia calls it Za’atar, google prefers Zaatar. My bag of spice was labeled Zatar, so that’s the name I’m going with.
Here is my take on Chicken Zatar, with only four ingredients. Rub a chicken with a paste of olive oil, zatar and salt, then grill it on the rotisserie. So simple, and yet so exotic.
Recipe: Rotisserie Chicken Zatar
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber Summit with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber kettle with the Rotisserie attachment; the kettle is here and the rotisserie attachment is here)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9″x12″, or whatever fits your grill)
- Butcher’s twine
- 1 (5 pound) chicken
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon zatar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
See my Rotisserie Poultry Basic Technique for an overview of rotisserie chicken.
1. Season, truss and spit the chicken Mix the olive oil, zatar, and kosher salt in a small bowl to make a paste. Rub the chicken with the paste, inside and out, Gently work your fingers under the skin on the breast, then rub some of the paste directly onto the breast meat.
Fold the wingtips under the wings and truss the chicken. Skewer the chicken on the rotisserie spit, securing it with the spit forks. Let the chicken rest at room temperature until the grill is ready.
2. Set up the grill for indirect medium heatSet the grill up for indirect medium heat, about 350°F with the drip pan in the middle of the grill.
For my Weber Summit, this means removing the grates, turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to medium, setting the infrared burner to medium, and preheating the grill for ten to fifteen minutes.
3. Rotisserie cook the chickenPut the spit on the grill, start the motor spinning, and make sure the drip pan is centered beneath the chicken. Close the lid and cook until the chicken reaches 160°F in the thickest part of the breast, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
4. ServeRemove the chicken from the rotisserie spit and remove the twine trussing the chicken. Be careful – the spit and forks are blazing hot. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes, then carve and serve.
- Zatar usually has a little salt in the mix. Salt is last in the ingredient list for my zatar, so I know there isn’t much in there. That’s why I added a teaspoon of salt to the recipe. If salt is higher in your zatar’s ingredient list, skip the teaspoon of salt.
- The five pound bird is a roaster, bigger than the four pound broiler/fryer birds I usually cook. If you are cooking a 4 pound or smaller bird, increase the heat to high, and cook for about an hour.
- If you have the time, marinate the chicken in the zatar paste – rub it an hour or two ahead of time, then store it in the refrigerator until it is time to grill.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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