Montreal Chicken with Chermoula and Mustard Sauce

Flavorful dipping sauces elevate this simple roast chicken.

Montreal Chicken with Chermoula and Mustard Sauce

Confession - this isn't really "Montreal Chicken" (but it plays one on the internet). I only call it Montreal Chicken because my partner was reminiscing about eating roasted chicken in Montreal that came with two sauces - one bright green and herbaceous, the other creamy with a mustard kick - and the reminiscence stuck. I've never been to Montreal (don't worry, it's on the shortlist), but that vision was enough to make me want to recreate the Montreal-chic meal I never had and it was not a disappointment. It's pretty hard to not love roast chicken on its own, but paired with the mustard crème fraîche and chermoula it's elevated and special. The meal is best eaten on a bright Montreal spring day, surrounded by cherry blossoms and wearing a beret, but also tastes good during the Winter in Oakland. If you have another favorite method for roasting chicken, feel free to use. Serves 3-4.

  • One 4-5 pound whole chicken
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, or thyme (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
  • Juice from one-half lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili flakes (optional)
  • 4 ounces crème fraîche
  • 2-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F and move rack to the middle of the oven.

Trim chicken of excess fat, pat dry, and then rub all over with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season generously inside and out with salt and pepper. Place the herbs and garlic inside the cavity and place the chicken breast side up on a roasting rack in a large oven-safe pan.

Roast the chicken in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 and continue roasting until the juices run clear, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. 

While chicken is roasting, prepare sauces as instructed below.

I use the term “chermoula” loosely, in this case just meaning a tart sauce using cilantro. It’s easy, refreshing, and delicious with a wide variety of things from this roast chicken to toasted bread or broiled fish with greens.

For the chermoula: Blend cilantro with lemon juice in a food processor. Continue blending as you drizzle in 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and optional chili flakes. Turn off the food processor periodically to taste the sauce as you go. Water may be added if you want to make a thinner sauce without increasing tart flavor or richness from olive oil. The sauce is done when it is the desired flavor and texture. 

For the mustard crème fraîche: Stir mustard into crème fraîche 1-2 teaspoons at a time until desired "mustardy-ness" is achieve. Refrigerate until served. 

Remove chicken from the oven and place on a cutting board. Allow chicken to rest 15-20 minutes before carving. Serve hot with side of chermoula, mustard crème fraîche. Roasted potatoes and a simple green salad also work very well with this dish.