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This is one of the tastiest and most simple roast chicken recipes I know.

It's pungently savory, earthy, and just lovely during the cooler months. It would be great for Thanksgiving for those who don't like turkey. Yet, with that said, you could just as easily give your turkey this method and have a beautifully burnished and crispy skin with tons of flavor through the meat.

Za'atar is a delicious blend of wild oregano, salt, thyme, sumac, marjoram, and toasted sesame seeds. Sometimes it contains multiple oreganos, dried dill, and orange zest. Ultimately, it's great on anything and, in my view, especially on meats. You can find it in Middle Eastern shops, some upscale grocers like Whole Foods, and online. It's a must in my spice collection.

"I don't typically fill the cavity with anything because I feel the heat needs to flow while it's roasting. A few herb sprigs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano etc. is a simple way of giving quiet flavor without stuffing it."

Notes: Butter is unsalted.


Ingredients: 1 whole chicken-at least 5 lbs., 3 tbsp. softened butter, 2 tsp. za'atar, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, fresh herb sprigs.

Serves 4.

1. Preheat the oven to 400*.

2. Prep the chicken by placing it into a clean sink and removing anything that has been preserved inside the cavity. Do not rinse. Pat dry with paper towels, then lay breast-up in a roasting pan or large, deep baking dish.

2. Rub softened butter all over the chicken and up under the skin on the breasts, if you like.

3. Stir the za'atar, salt and pepper together in a dish. Rub over the chicken. Place fresh herbs inside the cavity, then tuck wings underneath. Tie legs together if this is something you typically do.

4. Roast in the oven uncovered for 15 minutes per pound, plus an extra 10 minutes. (If your chicken is 5 pounds, it will roast for 1 hour and 25 minutes.) You don't need to baste it unless this is something you like to do.

5. Remove. Check that juices are running clear when you insert a knife into the crook of the thigh or that the internal temperature has reached 160-165*. Tent with foil until serving.

Tip: You can remove the chicken to a serving platter and tent it with foil if you would like to make a quick gravy. Pour the juices into a saucepan and add a big splash of wine, 1 tbsp. milk, and 1 tsp. of Dijon or whole grain mustard. Simmer until reduced, then quickly whisk in 1 tbsp. of corn starch.

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