A Spicy Rosh Hashanah

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Roast chicken is one traditional meal that is often served for the High Holidays. And who doesn’t love a roast chicken?

But if you believe the adage that variety is the spice of life, this dish is for you. I was mulling over how to make something a little different this year but that still was rooted in tradition, and this dish presented itself.

A friend had shared a version of the recipe that used an air fryer and included a sour cream-based sauce, but I tweaked it to create a version that cuts out the dairy ingredient and uses a regular old oven. And, as an aside, it is also quite delicious. Serving this alongside sweet and spicy tzimmes delivers a serving of tradition with a side of modernity.


Crispy Chicken with Cilantro Sauce
Serves 4

Cilantro is one of those things that people either love or hate. If you are a hater, simply swap in parsley; the sauce will still be delicious and look beautiful on the plate.

Using a wire rack set atop a rimmed baking sheet ensured crisped chicken on all sides. If you don’t have a way to assemble this apparatus, a broiler pan is a decent substitute. The idea is to enable the heat to circulate over all sides of the chicken while it cooks.

4 bone-in chicken thighs or breasts (if large, cut in half)
Juice of 1 lime
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
(or to taste)
1 tablespoon honey

Mix all of the ingredients except for the chicken in a large bowl or a zip-seal bag. Add the chicken and rub to coat it thoroughly. Marinate it for several hours in the refrigerator. Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.

Heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking tray and place the chicken pieces on the rack. Bake for 30 minutes, or until done. The chicken will be crispy on the outside.

Note: If the chicken seems to be charring in the oven, lower the heat to 400 degrees F. When done, remove the chicken from the oven, and serve it immediately with cilantro sauce.

Cilantro Sauce
Makes about 1 cup

This sauce was delicious with the chicken, and we served the leftovers on fish the following evening.

1 bunch cilantro, rinsed
2 cloves garlic
½ a jalapeno pepper (a piece measuring about 1½ inches)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste (be generous)

Puree all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Serve it with the chicken or as desired.

Sweet and Spicy Tzimmes
Serves 4

Like the rest of this menu, this version is a slight variation on the traditional. It uses the regular ingredients found in tzimmes — honey and root veggies — but offers a bit of kick with some added spice. The chipotles in adobo can be found in small cans in the international section of most grocery stores.

Because this also cooks at 425 degrees F, this can cook alongside the chicken; just be sure to put this in the oven about 15 minutes ahead to time it correctly for serving.

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in bite-sized pieces
1 white potato, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 carrots, cut in chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon honey
Salt to taste

Heat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a baking tray with parchment. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on the parchment.

In a small bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients. Be sure to mash any chipotle pepper into a paste with the adobo sauce; you don’t want large pieces because you want the spicy flavor permeating throughout the dish. Pour the sauce over the vegetables, and toss to coat them evenly.

Roast the dish in the oven for about 45 minutes until the vegetables are turning a golden brown and beginning to crisp at the edges.

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