Roast Chicken on a Faux Spit


  • One 3 1/2-pound chicken, preferably organic and air-chilled
  • 1 preserved lemon rinsed
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons saffron water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Smen, Oudi or clarified butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 medium onions, grated, rinsed, and squeezed dry
  • 12 green-ripe, midway, or red olives, pitted


  1. About 4 hours before serving, rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. slide your fingers under the skin to loosen it from the flesh.
  2. Remove the pulp from the preserved lemon, chopping and saving the peel for the sauce. add the lemon pulp, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, the ginger, pepper, turmeric, saffron water, herbs, oil, and smen or butter to the jar of a blender and grind to a paste. insert some of the paste under the skin of the chicken and massage into the flesh. put some of the paste into the cavity and rub the remainder all over the skin. put the chicken in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. About 2 hours before you plan to serve the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator. position a rack on the lowest shelf and preheat the oven to 400°f.
  4. Set a standing ceramic or metal cone, beer can, or wire roaster in a shallow baking dish. add about 1 cup water to the dish. stand the chicken up on the cone (or can or wire roaster); set the bowl of marinade aside. roast until an instant-read thermometer set deep into the inner thigh reaches 165°f, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, add the chicken stock to the bowl in which you marinated the chicken, then scrape all the liquid and marinade into a 9-inch skillet. add the onions and cook, stirring, until the onions turn golden brown. add the olives and reserved lemon peel and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a carving board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.
  7. Meanwhile, skim the fat from the juices in the baking dish, add the juices to the skillet, and boil down to a thick, unctuous sauce.
  8. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.

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