Cilantro Yogurt Roasted Chicken just might be one of the most tender and moist birds you’ll ever serve. The magic is in the marinade. Specifically, the yogurt’s lactic acid gently tenderizes the meat. The tangy marinade also doubles as a vibrant dipping sauce. No need to shy away from this recipe if you’re not a yogurt fan or are lactose intolerant. The yogurt is actually wiped off the bird before roasting. Don’t let the words ‘advance planning’ deter you. This recipe is worth it.
This recipe was adapted from Melissa Clark of the New York Times. If the idea of chopping a bird in two sounds like too much work, check out her excellent instructional video. She cuts that bird in half like it was paper. Her kitchen shears are probably sharper than mine. I found the job easier using a chef’s knife.
For the marinade, the ingredient list is just a guide. Feel free to play around with herb combinations. Organic citrus is best as zest from the rind is used. The amount of salt may seem a bit much for a dressing. But, the salt lightly brines the bird, adding moisture. Melissa recommends marinating the bird between 6 and 24 hours. Having tried both ends of the spectrum, I vote for the 24 hour marinade if you can swing it. It is the difference between very good and great.
- Chef’s knife or kitchen shears
- Large bowl or heavy-duty plastic sealable bag
- Rimmed baking sheet
- 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup packed chives or arugula
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 anchovy fillets or 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
- 2 scallion, white and green parts
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lime or lemon, ideally organic
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (4-5 pound) chicken, ideally organic
- Cut the bird in half through the breast and back bones. Pat all sides dry with a paper towels and set aside.
- Combine the yogurt, herbs, garlic, anchovies (if using), citrus zest and juice, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Set aside 1/4 of the marinade to use a dipping sauce later.
- Place chicken halves in a bowl or sealable plastic bag.
- Add the remaining 3/4 of the marinade to the bag, distributing the marinade to coat each side of the halves.
- Refrigerate for between 6 and 24 hours.
- Heat over to 500° F.
- Remove chicken from the marinade, shaking off as much liquid drip as possible and wiping off excess with a paper towel.
- Place each half, leg side up, on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until cooked through and the juices run clear.
- Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Serve with the reserved marinade as a dipping sauce.