Middle Eastern Yogurt-Crusted Roast Chicken with Cucumber Salad Recipe

We all need more ideas for ways to prepare the ever-popular chicken. And by cooking a whole bird, it is not only a more cost-effective option, but you may also have some leftovers to help with quick meals for those busy weeknights. 

Yogurt is a popular marinade ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, and in this recipe, it not only helps flavor the chicken but also forms a delicious and spicy crust as the chicken roasts, says Bruce Aidells, author of The Great Meat Cookbook, who created this recipe for Real Food. To make it a meal, serve with cucumber salad (recipe below), pita bread and tabbouli or baba ghanoush.

Middle Eastern Yogurt-Crusted Roast Chicken with Cucumber Salad 

Makes 6 servings 

1 4-pound whole chicken, with neck, fat and giblets removed 

Spice Paste
12 cup whole-milk yogurt, such as Greek yogurt 
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon turmeric
12 teaspoon ground ginger 
18 teaspoon cinnamon 
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 

1. For the chicken: Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. For the spice paste: In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Set aside.

3. Wash chicken and pat completely dry. Generously rub spice paste into body cavity, neck cavity and all over breast, wings, legs and thighs. Place chicken on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan and insert in middle of oven. Begin checking internal temperature after 1 hour. Remove from oven when thickest part of thigh registers 165°F; total roasting time will be between 1 hour and 112 hours.

4. Let chicken rest 10 minutes. This will result in juicy breast meat and succulent thighs. The final temperature after this mandatory resting period will be 175°F to 180°F. Carve and serve. 


Middle Eastern Cucumber Salad 

1 large English cucumber 
1 small red onion or other sweet onion, finely chopped 
12 teaspoon salt, or more to taste 
2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped 
12 teaspoon ground cumin 
pinch sugar, or more to taste 
1  tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste
2  tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Toss vegetables with remaining ingredients in a serving bowl. Taste a piece of cucumber and add salt, sugar, or lemon to taste. Serve at once. 

Nutrition info Middle Eastern Yogurt-Crusted Roast Chicken (per serving): Calories 356 (190 from fat); Fat 21g (Sat. 6g); Chol 119mg; Sodium 1298mg; Carb 3g; Fiber 1g; Protein 37g 

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.