Dishwasher’s Holiday

Whether that dishwasher is a person, or an appliance, little matter. Making a complete dinner that cooks up in one tray is sure to save on dirty dishes now and on work later. That’s the beauty of Chicken Traybake, a concoction in which, as the name suggests, poultry, a side, and a sauce for both all bake together in the same vessel, a shallow pan. Garnish with generous amounts of leafy parsley, and you have the beginnings of a salad too. Pretty efficient, that tray.

The meal’s full title is, Garlicky Spiced Chicken and Potato Traybake with Pomegranate Molasses, and Milk Street described its progress in the May/June 2020 issue. Here is an element of Palestinian cuisine, as cookbook author Reem Kassis prepares it. Sure, most cuisines feature some kind of meal bringing together chicken and a starch, but coriander, cardamom and, above all, pomegranate molasses, give this dish a uniquely Levantine flair.

Everything is seasoned with the above ingredients, as well as a host of other, more prosaic, supplements, and is baked together in a tray. Thus, the potatoes absorb the chicken’s essence as both cook, and the sauce marinating the pair lends an evocative identity. Here’s the assembly awaiting the heat:

What emerges from the oven is nicely and subtly crisped. Still, the bird is juicy on the inside and the potatoes’ interiors are soft and fluffy. In other words, all is cooked beautifully. The attributes only begin there. What really makes this special is the flavor. The molasses gives the ingredients a mildly fruity lilt with playfully tart overtones. Meanwhile, the cinnamon, cardamom and coriander lend an ethereal finish.

Oh, let’s not forget the sauce. After the poultry and tubers are removed to a serving platter, the drippings and the garlic remain on the tray. The oven’s heat has done wonders, turning the bulb into a paste, mild in flavor. The garlic is mashed and is mixed with the juices and a little water, forming an rich-tasting gravy of sorts, which is drizzled back over its one-time companions.

Key to the flavor of all is pomegranate molasses, still rather unfamiliar in many quarters, but a common ingredient in Near Eastern kitchens. Its beautiful balance of tartness and sweetness goes a long way to recommending it, suggesting the obscurity may not last:

What requires no additional clarification, though, is the delightful scarcity of dishes in the sink afterwards. Really, a meal this delicious should be much more trouble to prepare, right? Yet the sink refuses to fill. If you’re among those eating you already are delighted. If you’re tasked with cleaning up afterwards, the good news keeps on coming. The culinary term for this phenomenon, apparently, is “Win-Win.”


Garlicky Spiced Chicken and Potato Traybake with Pomegranate Molasses

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses, plus more to serve (*1)
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, trimmed and patted dry
  • 1-and-1/2 pounds medium red potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges (*2)
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley, to serve

In a large bowl, stir together the oil, molasses, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, 4 tablespoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Add the chicken and the potatoes, then toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature while the oven heats.

Heat the oven to 450° with a rack in the middle position. Place the garlic cloves in the middle of a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the chicken parts, skin up, around the garlic.  Arrange the potatoes evenly around the chicken.

Roast 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes and chicken are deeply browned, but haven’t burnt.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken and potatoes to a platter, leaving the garlic on the baking sheet.  With a fork, mash the garlic until relatively smooth.  Pour 1/4 cup water onto the baking sheet, then use a spoon to scrape up the browned bits.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if necessary, then pour over the chicken and potatoes.  Drizzle with additional pomegranate molasses and sprinkle generously with parsley.


1 – If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, substitute 1 teaspoon each of honey and lemon juice.

2 – If the potatoes are medium, quartering them into wedges will be perfect.  If the spuds are larger, it may be necessary to cut each potato into more than four pieces.  The goal is to have each wedge be about 1-and-1/2 inches thick.


16 thoughts on “Dishwasher’s Holiday

    1. Thanks so much, Rachel! Glad you appreciate eclectic ingredients. A modest number of Lebanese Christians immigrated to this area, making Eastern Mediterranean dry goods somewhat easy to source locally. If your grocer doesn’t provision as abundantly, there always is Amazon, of course.

      You caught me – I have been holding out! This is the first pomegranate molasses has appeared on these pages, but I have used it before elsewhere. As you can see, the new bottle I bought still is mostly full, meaning you’ll see the ingredient again in future entries.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, of course! I am an equal opportunity appreciator of eclecticism, whether in ingredients, decor (though, alas, I mostly just admire from a distance) or people. And a bit of sweetness always helps, too. 😜

        Aha! So you went through a whole bottle before sharing? Tsk tsk.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Actually, more than one, Rachel.

        When lockdown set me in pursuit of all the recipes out these, finding one with both poultry and pomegranate molasses definitely produced an exclamation point. “Time to let them in on the secret,” I thought, rather arrogantly. Naturally, it never occurred to me that, among a group of foodies, one or two may have heard of it before.

        Completely agree about sweetness. Both in terms of the molasses, and more broadly, in the blog’s general direction. As the decade proceeds, desserts will claim more than their current share.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. But now you and those one or two are united in your mutual knowledge and (doubtless) appreciation. Even if the secret was less secret than you thought, that hardly means it wasn’t worth sharing.

        Ahh, paying off the sweet toothed among us, eh? Clever. 😜

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, most definitely. Chocolate is so much more convenient. It’s worth its share of money, AND it’s delicious. Who could say no to that?

        Now if only the national currency could be swapped over to chocolate. Actually… scratch that. That would be dreadful in the summer.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It would be, until swimming in chocolate becomes a thing. Really, in a chocolate-forward society, would that take very long to happen?

        Here’s the plan, Rachel:

        One of these years, at last, the internet is bound to be abuzz over a chocolate-infused entry. This will be our moment.

        We’ll approach one on the enthusiastic influencers, someone with 100,000 times the followers you and I have combined, and we’ll ask her to post a reel of her soaking in a kiddie pool of melted Godiva.

        In the course of just one sultry night in late July, every shelf coast to coast will be emptied. Women will want to be just like the influencer, and men will hope to impress her with their over-the-top ardor. All will sign up for the swim team, though. Problem solved.

        Think it’ll work?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You know, it just might. But at the same time… The poor chocolate. I may operate on a twenty second rule when it comes to dropping chocolate, but I’m not touching it with a ten foot pole after its been swum in. All that chocolate, wasted.

        No, no. Much better to keep it to ourselves. Let everyone else keep spending paper and metal — we know where true worth lies.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Good point, Rachel. It certainly wouldn’t be the most disappointing thing to become trendy, but still, we have the chocolate’s integrity to consider too. After all, we, of all people, should understand its value.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Truth be told, I’m watching my sugar in the new year, not exactly by choice. So my initial reaction was to cut the pomegranate molasses. Then. I read on. Of course, I can’t cut the pomegranate molasses. The pomegranate molasses is the point. It’s okay. I’ll skip dessert.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s quite a compliment, Crystal – thank you!

      Does your determination distinguish cane sugar and “natural” sweeteners? While there has been/will be plenty of the former, things like honey, palm sugar, and agave nectar also will have a voice. Another friend and reader aims for sugar-free, and sensitivity to her restrictions has inspired some of the recipes you’ll see.

      Your desire to try sometimes what you see flatters, Crystal! It’s only decent to consider your preferences too, of course.


      1. So much to consider. I’m still trying to figure it all out. I think I’ll have my coffee now, with honey, and continue to ponder. I might even do some Googling. I probably need a sugar expert.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nice way to honor humanity’s original sweetener, Crystal. Long before most were within a thousand miles of sugarcane, we had honey.

        You’re doing this on your own, huh? “Doctor’s orders” are usually what launch most journeys, but you seem to be doing so for a broader revamp. As usual, I admire both your curiosity and your idealism.

        Liked by 1 person

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