CHICKEN WITH POMEGRANATE, RAS EL HANOUT STUFF­ING & LAB­NEH

Cuisine - - GINNY GRANT -

SERVES 6 / PREPA­RA­TION 30 MIN­UTES / COOK­ING 2 HOURS

I much pre­fer a good chicken to a turkey – the cook­ing time is shorter and you get more re­li­ably juicy meat. I’ve given the quan­tity here for one bird, but the stuff­ing is suf­fi­cient for two birds, as I like to have ex­tra along­side. Ras el hanout is a Moroc­can spice blend that's in­creas­ingly read­ily avail­able at su­per­mar­kets and spe­cialty food stores, but I’ve also given a recipe – which will make more than you need, but it’s ex­cel­lent to use as a rub for lamb steaks, tofu or fish. I sug­gest you make the lab­neh for this from my sim­ple recipe in Chop Chop on page 32.

FOR THE CHICKEN

1 size 14 or 16 chicken ¼ cup lemon juice 2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil ¼ cup pomegranate mo­lasses 2 cloves gar­lic, mashed with a lit­tle salt Put the chicken on a plate or in a con­tainer. Mix to­gether the lemon juice, oil, pomegranate mo­lasses and gar­lic and rub over the chicken. Re­frig­er­ate for 24-48 hours.

FOR THE STUFF­ING & TO COOK

2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil 1 onion, chopped 2 sticks cel­ery, chopped 1 red cap­sicum, de­seeded, chopped 2 tea­spoons ras el hanout (bought or made to recipe be­low) 3 cups fresh bread­crumbs ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted 1 cup flat-leafed pars­ley, finely chopped 1 egg, lightly beaten 1 batch (300g-400g) lab­neh (see Chop Chop, page 32) Heat the oil in a fry­ing pan, add the onion, cel­ery and cap­sicum and cook for 5 min­utes or un­til soft. Add the ras el hanout and fry for a cou­ple of min­utes. Set aside and al­low to cool. Mix with the bread­crumbs, pine nuts, pars­ley and egg. Set aside un­til ready to stuff the chicken (this should be done on the day you plan to cook it).

Pre­heat the oven to 180°C. Re­move the chicken from the fridge (don't dis­card the mari­nade that has run off it). For easy carv­ing, re­move the wish­bone by gen­tly us­ing a small knife and fin­gers to ease it out. Sea­son the cav­ity and fill with some stuff­ing. Wrap the re­main­ing stuff­ing in but­tered foil. Close the cav­ity with tooth­picks or skew­ers and tie with string.

Place the chicken in a bak­ing dish, breast side down, an­gled to one side. Pour over the left­over mari­nade and ½ cup wa­ter or chicken stock. Sea­son gen­er­ously with salt.

Cook for 20 min­utes, brush with the mari­nade liq­uid and an­gle the breast to the other side. Cook for 20 min­utes. Flip the chicken so it rests on its back­bone and brush with the mari­nade. At this point add the foil-wrapped stuff­ing to the oven.

Cook the chicken for another 20 min­utes and brush again. Start keep­ing an eye on the chicken as the skin will darken con­sid­er­ably. If it looks in dan­ger of burn­ing, place a tent of foil or bak­ing pa­per loosely over the top.

Cook for another 20-30 min­utes (to­tal cook­ing time should be 1 hour 20-30 min­utes), test­ing the legs at the thick­est parts (the juices should run clear when pierced with a skewer) to en­sure that the bird is cooked through. Re­move from the oven and al­low to rest for at least 10 min­utes, be­fore re­mov­ing the string and skew­ers to be­gin carv­ing.

Carve the chicken and ar­range on a plat­ter with the stuff­ing, lab­neh and any cook­ing juices.

RAS EL HANOUT MAKES ¼ CUP

1 tea­spoon black pep­per­corns 1 tea­spoon fen­nel seeds 2 tea­spoons co­rian­der seeds 8 car­damom pods 1 tea­spoon yel­low mus­tard seeds 2 tea­spoons cumin seeds 1 cin­na­mon stick 4 cloves 1 tea­spoon whole all­spice ½ tea­spoon freshly grated nut­meg 1 tea­spoon dried oregano 1 tea­spoon ground gin­ger 1 tea­spoon turmeric 1 tea­spoon pa­prika Gen­tly toast the pep­per­corns, fen­nel, co­rian­der, car­da­mon, mus­tard, cumin, cin­na­mon, cloves and all­spice un­til fra­grant. Com­bine with the re­main­ing in­gre­di­ents and grind in a spice grinder or blender un­til pow­dered.

WINE A sweet-fruited pinot noir. Try the Mud House Claim 431 Sin­gle Vine­yard Cen­tral Otago Pinot Noir 2015.

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