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Naz's Orange Blossom, Saffron, and Yogurt Roast Chicken

Naz Deravian2 Comments
Recipe + Photograph ©  Naz Deravian

Recipe + Photograph © Naz Deravian

This fragrant, flavorful roast chicken is equally perfect for entertaining or for a Sunday night family meal. (Prepare for ohhs and ahhs. ) Since yogurt’s a natural tenderizer, it often features in meat marinades. The orange blossom water and barberries can be found online or at Middle Eastern grocery stores.  Make sure you have some crusty bread on hand… the pan juices are insanely delicious!


Serves 4 to 6

1 4-pound chicken
1 cup plain yogurt
1 heaping tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 large lemon, half of it juiced, the other half quartered
Zest of one orange (reserve ¼ of the orange for stuffing the cavity)
1/4 teaspoon ground saffron steeped in 1 tablespoon hot water
1-1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
3 large rosemary sprigs 
1 shallot
Olive oil, for drizzling 
Caramelized onion and barberries (*see below) 

Combine the yogurt, salt, honey, lemon juice, orange zest, saffron water, and orange blossom water in a small bowl.  
Place 2 rosemary sprigs in a small roasting pan. Place chicken on top. Starting at the neck of the chicken, very gently lift the skin off the breast. Run your fingers down the chicken, gently separating the skin from the meat. (Try not to tear the skin.)

Spoon half the marinade under the skin. Rub the rest of the marinade all over the outside of the chicken and inside the cavity. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Stuff the cavity with 1 shallot, 1 rosemary sprig, 1/4 wedge of a lemon, and 1/4 wedge of an orange. If you have any citrus left over, slice it into rounds and lay on top of the chicken. Drizzle the top of the chicken with about 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Roast chicken for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes. You want the skin to get crisp and golden but if it starts burning, loosely cover. Roast until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads at 165°F. 

Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes. Spoon the pan juices and the barberries over the chicken and serve with plenty of crusty bread for dipping into the pan juices.  

*Caramelized Onion and Barberries

To clean the barberries, remove the stems and discard any berries that look extremely dark or old. Set in a bowl with cool water to cover. Soak for 15 minutes. Lift out with a small mesh sieve or your hands so as not to disturb the grit that settled at the bottom of the bowl. Rinse well, then transfer to a paper towel or dish towel; pat dry.  Proceed as directed below.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup barberries, picked through and soaked

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with a little salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until gently caramelized, about 20 minutes. (Reduce the heat during cooking to avoid burning, if necessary.) Add the barberries and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Take care not to overcook the barberries as they can burn very quickly and turn bitter. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.    

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