This dish is in honor of Alberta Wright. Alberta Wright owned Jezebel, which was one of my inspirations for Red Rooster. When I think about Alberta's history — her fierceness combined with her incredible charm and grace, I am humbled by how much she accomplished, when she started with very little. She had an eighth-grade education, but she ended up opening a Jezebel in Paris. I am reminded that there are so many Albertas out there, a whole lineage of Black queens who won't be told what they can't do — they are charming, hardworking, talented — even if most of them don't get acknowledged. I was very lucky to have Alberta as a mentor. In fact, I wouldn't be in Harlem without her.
Technique tip: When roasting, ensure the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 F. Let sit for 10 minutes before carving.
Berbere Spice Brown Butter (makes about 1½ cups)
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 small red onion, coarsely, chopped
- 1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon berbere seasoning
- 1 whole chicken, innards removed
- 1/2 cup Berbere Spice Brown Butter, cut into cubes (recipe above)
- 1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 8 to 10 stems fresh sage, chopped
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas
- 1/2 cup pitted black olives
- 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2/3 cup couscous
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 4 chicken livers
For the Berbere Spice Brown Butter:
1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. As foam rises to the top, skim and discard it. Continue cooking, without letting the butter brown, until no more foam appears. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, cardamom, fenugreek, cumin, oregano, turmeric and thyme, and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned and aromatic.
2. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth.
3. Melt the mixture in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the berbere spice and stir to combine (can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks).
For the chicken:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Using your fingers and starting at the neck of the chicken, gently separate the skin from the meat of the breasts, just enough to slide half of the berbere butter in between the skin and the breast.
3. Take half of all of the herbs and distribute them under the skin and inside the cavity of the chicken.
4. Rub the chicken all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with half of the salt and pepper.
5. Place the chicken in a medium roasting pan and roast until the skin is golden-brown, juices from the thigh run clear when pricked with a knife, and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 F, 45-60 minutes.
6. Remove the bird from the oven and allow to rest at least 10 minutes before carving.
7. While the chicken is cooking, heat the remaining berbere butter in a medium Dutch oven set over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, garlic and remaining salt and pepper, and sauté until the onion is beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
8. Add the remaining herbs, the chickpeas, olives, tomatoes, cumin, turmeric and red wine, and stir to combine. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
9. Add the couscous and the lemon zest and juice, and stir to combine. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes, until the couscous is tender.
10. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small sauté pan set over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken livers. Cook for 4-5 minutes, just until cooked through. Slice the liver and stir into the chickpea-couscous mixture.
11. Carve the chicken and serve with chickpeas and couscous.