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+ servings
Sheet Pan Saffron Chicken and Plums
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins

A simple sheet pan chicken and plums recipe featuring crispy saffron- and garlic-infused chicken topped with a sweet and savory plum pan sauce. For best results, allow chicken to sit overnight with the spice rub. Recipe adapted from Melissa Clark for The New York Times

Recipe Type: Dinner
Makes: 6 servings
Author: Elizabeth Stark, adapted from Melissa Clark
  • 3 pounds dark meat chicken (a mix of thighs and legs)
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • zest of 1 lemon (reserve lemon for plum sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Plum Sauce
  • 1 pound plums (preferably a variety of sweet European prune plums), cut into 1-inch slices**
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 lemon (reserved from spice rub), quartered
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional***)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 bay leaves, preferably fresh
  1. At least a couple hours ahead of time, but preferably the night before, make spice rub for the chicken. With a mortar and pestle, grind saffron threads, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Add garlic, lemon zest, and sea salt, and smash into a rough paste. Mix with olive oil.

  2. Rub mixture all over chicken, making sure to coat both sides. Cover and set in the fridge 2 hours or longer.*

  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, toss plums with shallots, lemon, olive oil, ginger, honey, allspice, and sea salt.

  5. Arrange chicken on an 18 x 13-inch sheet pan. Spoon plums and any juices around chicken pieces. Tuck bay leaves throughout. 

Slide into oven and roast 40 - 45 minutes, or until plums have cooked down, chicken skin is crisped, and a thermometer inserted sideways into thigh meat reads 165 degrees F.
  6. Arrange chicken on a platter. Pluck lemons and bay leaves from the plum sauce and tuck around the chicken pieces. Carefully scrape plum sauce from the hot sheet pan into a bowl. Serve chicken and sauce with a side of rice or the grain of your choice.
Recipe Notes

*In the interest of fewer dishes, I stored the spice rubbed chicken on a sheet pan. When it was time to cook, I just added the plum mixture and slid it into the oven.

**Depending on the size of the plum, this may mean halves, quarters, or sixths.

***To make recipe Whole30-compliant, omit honey.