Tired Of The Same Old Rice Pilaf? Try Some Middle Eastern Inspiration

December 13, 2019

Tired Of The Same Old Rice Pilaf? Try Some Middle Eastern Inspiration

Credit: Tasty/Buzzfeed

Za'atar Chicken and Rice Pilaf

A delicious middle east-inspired rice pilaf with aromatic herbs and chicken.

Course Main Course
Cuisine middle eastern
Keyword pilaf
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 4
Author D. Leecious


  • 5 lb whole chicken


  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 4 qt water
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

Chicken Seasoning

  • 1 oz lemon peel chopped
  • 1 oz garlic chopped
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tspn kosher salt
  • 2 tspn za'atar

Rice Pilaf

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup fideo
  • 1 1/2 cups white basmati rice
  • za'atar oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tspn za'atar
  • 1/4 tspn kosher salt


  1. Spatchcock chicken by cutting down the backbone and prying wide open to flatten chicken.

  2. Brine: Toast peppercorns, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds until fragrant.

  3. Put toasted spices in a large pot over high heat with 1 quart of water, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Boil for 1 minute and remove pot from heat. Transfer brine to a large container and cool by pouring in remaining water.

  4. Place chicken in brine and chill for at least 6 hours.

  5. Preheat your oven to 450°F. Place a roasting rack on top of a baking sheet.

  6. Chicken Seasoning: Combine lemon peel, garlic, and canola oil in a food processor and process into a thick paste.

  7. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Carefully separate skin from breasts and thighs. Rub lemon garlic paste over bird. Rub softened butter underneath and over skin. Season both sides with the salt and za’atar. Place chicken on rack set over baking sheet, breast-side up.

  8. Roast chicken for 40-50 minutes or until breast meat reaches 145°F.

  9. Roast until thigh meat near bones reaches 160°F. Remove from oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

  10. Rice Pilaf: Rinse rice under running water. Transfer to a medium bowl and cover with water by 1 inch. Soak for 10 minutes.

  11. Add chicken stock to a small pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low.

  12. In a large pan over medium heat, combine butter, garlic, and fideo. Cook until most of the noodles are golden brown.

  13. Drain rice once the noodles are toasted. Add to pan and sauté until rice is dry and coated with the butter.

  14. Add hot chicken stock and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook until the noodles curl up. Fluff pilaf with a fork and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

  15. Za’atar Oil: In a small bowl, combine olive oil, za’atar, and salt.

  16. Carve chicken and arrange over the rice pilaf. Spoon the za’atar oil over. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.


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