Bi-Rite Market's Sumac-Roasted Chicken du Monde

Bi-Rite Market's Sumac-Roasted Chicken du Monde

[Photograph: France Ruffenach]

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food to give away this week.

Sour, citrusy, and totally at home with both meats and vegetables, sumac is one of those spices that we just can't get enough of. This Sumac-Roasted Chicken du Monde from Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food showcases how easily it can be incorporated into all sorts of dishes.

This particular roast chicken begins with an Indian curry powder heavy brine that stains the halved chicken a bright yellow. After a day of soaking up all of that sugar, salt, and curry it's rubbed with olive oil and sumac and roasted over a bed of red onions, balsamic, and thyme branches. It's a blend of flavors from Italy, France, India, and the Middle East that seem unlikely when the chicken goes into the oven, before it starts to roast and really fill the kitchen.

Why you should make this: Apart from being a delicious and inventive take on roast chicken, this is a dish that highlights the fact that we should all be more familiar with the glorious spice that is sumac.

Next time we might think about: Cooking the chicken over a bed of onions makes for a lot of drippings and some pretty tasty onions. Next time around we're definitely throwing a few potatoes in there too.

Adapted from Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food by Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough. Copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:Serves 2 to 4
  • Active time: 1 hour
  • Total time:1 hour plus brining time


  • Brine:
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder 
  •  :
  • Chicken:
  • 3-pound chicken, cut into two halves
  • 2 medium red onions (about 1 pound)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac 


  1. 1.

    The day before you plan to cook: Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Put the chicken in the pot and top with a plate, if necessary, to keep the chicken submerged. Refrigerate for at least 
6 hours or overnight.

  2. 2.

    When you’re ready to cook the chicken: Heat the oven to 450°F and remove the chicken from the refrigerator.

  3. 3.

    Peel and trim the onions, keeping as much of the root end intact as possible. Cut into 1-inch wedges, cutting through the root end so the layers stay connected. Put the onions and thyme in a large roasting pan, drizzle with the balsamic, and stir to combine. 

  4. 4.

    Remove the chicken from the brine, dry off with paper towels, and rub with the olive oil. Sprinkle the sumac all over the chicken. Put the chicken halves skin side up in the pan, arranging the onions around them.

  5. 5.

    Roast, stirring the onions occasionally, until the skin is golden and an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F at the deepest part of the chicken’s thighs, about 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a cutting board. Stir the onions so that they pick up some of the juices and browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt if needed.

  6. 6.

    To serve, spread the onions across the bottom of a serving platter and top with the chicken.