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Honey-Cumin Roasted Chicken with Apricots & Olives

Scott Phillips

Servings: four.



For the chicken:

  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 large cloves garlic, peeled

For the marinade:

  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil


  • 4 oz. dried apricots (about 16)
  • 24 green and black assorted olives, whole or pitted


Marinate the chicken pieces for 6 to 24 hours.

  • Wash and dry the chicken pieces thoroughly. Press down on the chicken breasts with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly (allowing rib cartilage to pop away or break in half). With a sharp knife, poke three or four slits in both sides of each piece of chicken to help the marinade penetrate. Put the chicken in a large nonreactive bowl. Toss with 1-1/2 tsp. of kosher salt . Crush the garlic cloves, sprinkle with a little salt, and mince finely into a paste; you should have 1-1/2 to 2 Tbs. Add to the chicken and coat the pieces roughly with the garlic paste.
  • Combine all the marinade ­ingredients (but not the extras) in a small bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Scrape into the bowl of chicken and toss to coat (I like to mix with my hands to distribute evenly). Toss in the extras and then press on the chicken to be sure the marinade has coated and surrounded all the pieces. Wrap the bowl well with plastic and ­refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.

Up to an hour ahead, remove the chicken from the refrigerator to take off the chill.

  • Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and pour the chicken and marinade (scraping the bowl) into one 10×15-inch or two 7×11-inch Pyrex ­baking dishes. Adjust the chicken so it’s skin side up and the pieces are evenly spaced. Tuck the extras under and around the chicken pieces. Sprinkle each piece of chicken with a pinch of salt. Let the chicken sit for at least 20 min. or up to an hour to warm up a bit so it will cook more evenly. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F. 

Roast the chicken for an hour, basting two or three times.

  • Put the chicken in the oven to roast. As it cooks, the marinade will ­bubble and begin to reduce. After 30 min., baste occasionally with the pan juices to help brown the skin and keep the chicken moist. The chicken is done when it turns deep brown and the pan juices have reduced (the sides of the pan will be very dark brown and look almost burned, and a paring knife will slide easily into a thigh), about 1 hour. The pan juices may ­separate, meaning the fat will be floating on top of the juices, which will be very thick.

Make a sauce from the ­flavorful pan drippings.

  •  Transfer the chicken pieces to a cutting board and tent with foil. Discard any herbs such as rosemary sprigs but transfer all the other extras to a small bowl and reserve.
  • Hold one end of the pan with a pot­holder and gently tilt the pan to let the juices run into one corner. With a large, shallow spoon, spoon off as much fat as possible but leave any savory juices and pan drippings behind (they may look clumpy). Add 2 Tbs. water to the pan (or 1 Tbs. to each of the two pans) and use a wooden spoon to scrape off enough of the baked-on pan drippings from the sides and bottom of the pan to form a slightly ­thickened, deeply colored, rich-looking sauce (you won’t need to scrape the whole pan). Taste the sauce—if it’s too intense, add a little more water; if it isn’t flavorful enough, keep scraping and stirring.

Serve one thigh and half of a breast, drizzled with pan sauce, over potatoes, rice, or pasta.

  • Cut each chicken breast in half by centering a large chef’s knife over it and then pushing down and slicing at the same time (the knife will cut right through the cartilage). Serve a thigh and half of a breast, with a few spoonfuls of sauce over all and a portion of the extras, to each diner. Add the optional garnish if you like.

Spanish rice pilaf, scented with saffron and studded with pinenuts 

Pale ale, which has both fruity and bitter notes, is delicious with the sweet-salty contrast in this marinade.


Make the pan sauce while the pan is still hot; if you get delayed, use hot water to make the sauce, or put the pan back in the oven briefly to warm it.


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Reviews (4 reviews)

  • bessieheath | 11/06/2017

    I use this a lot for an informal gathering go-to recipe. It's so much more than the sum of its parts, really. Big flavor, do-ahead, bit of style. After roasting, I put all the liquid in a fat separator, pour the bottom layer back into the roaster and thicken with a tablespoon of corn starch stirred into a bit of orange juice or chicken stock. Pour the sauce back over the chicken in the serving dish.

  • Jason123 | 03/27/2008

    This is a really delicious recipe. It has a robust salty sweet flavour and rich golden brown appearance. Its also really fast and easy to make, and great as leftovers.

  • Glynn | 03/14/2008

    I think this a delicious meal and has always met rave reviews in our household. It is easy to prepare and elegant to serve. My father is diabetic so I omit the honey for him without any discernable change in taste.

  • jng000 | 02/26/2008

    Delicious way to make baked chicken. Sauce is very tasty.

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