This recipe is a more colourful and exotic version of a British classic, roast chicken. The succulent chicken is stuffed with slices of zesty orange, spices and freekeh which is a gorgeous, nutty grain quite unlike anything you'll have tasted before. Freekeh is actually young, green wheat which is harvested promptly then roasted over an open fire and rubbed, which gives its distinct smoky and earthy flavour, delicious especially when paired with toasted pine-nuts, almonds and aromatic spices.
Freekeh has been dubbed the next super grain due to having high levels of protein, but if you're not a classic health-fad follower don't fret this lovely grain is packed full of unusual and unsuspecting flavour and you'll be rubbing plenty of butter onto the skin to make it crispy. Once roasted in the oven, the sweet spice mix of cardamon, clove, cinnamon, fennel, nutmeg and ginger will lovingly rub into the tender, moist chicken creating a dish that is truly salivating,
INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)
You will need a pestle and mortar to grind the spices
4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
10 cardamon pods
1/2 nutmeg, grated
135g freekeh (sold at Holland & Barrett and Marks & Spencer) but you canuse bulgur which is more widely available
1 whole chicken (weighing about 1.5kg)
50g pine nuts
50g of flaked almonds
1 small onion, diced
1 orange, sliced thinly with skin on
2 tsp sweet spice mix (ingredients above)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 knob of fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp of salt
1 knob of butter (about 25g)
1/2 small red onion, sliced as finely as possible
1 small cucumber, cut into small chunks
juice of 1/2 lemon
250g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
25 ml of olive oil
1/2 tsp of whole grain mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Start by making the spice mix. Heat your oven to 170 c. and then place all the ingredients on a baking tray, flattening and mixing the spices. Place in the oven for 5 minutes, by the end you should start to smell the spices. Remove from the oven and leave to the side to cool. Once cool, use the pestle and mortar to grind the mix into a powder ready for cooking.
Rinse the freekeh in cold water using a sieve and then place in a pan with boiling water (1 part freekeh, 3 parts water) and simmer for 20 mins until the freekeh is cooked. Drain the freekeh, rinsing in cold water and then leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 220 c. (This may seem hot but we will reduce the heat later)
Place your almonds and pine nuts in a large frying pan on the heat (no oil) until toasted, be very vigilant as they will cook in minutes and are very easy to burn! Next add the olive oil, the diced onion and garlic, sauté unti softened and then add the spice mix and the grated ginger. Cook for an extra 2 mins and then tip in the freekeh, mixing well. Now you have your stuffing.
Stuff the chicken with the freekeh stuffing, pushing as much of the mixture into the chicken where possible. If you have some left over place it in a mound underneath the chicken, add 3 uncooked orange slices on the surface and neatly place on top. It's important that you make a mound of the freekeh as thin layers will end up burning in the oven.
Rub the chicken skin with the butter (microwave gently if it needs softening) and the last tsp of spice mix. Place any leftover oranges under the skin of the chicken and any extra butter too, don't be afraid to get hands-on and personal with the bird. Season the Chicken thoroughly before placing it in the oven.
Cook the chicken at 220 c. for no more than 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180 c. and cook for a further 1 hr. If you feel that the chicken is browning too much on top, place aluminium foil on top and continue cooking.
To check the chicken is done, insert a small knife into the thickest part of the thigh and have a poke. If the liquid is clear (as opposed to red) it is cooked, but if you're unsure have a little scrape at the meat to check it still isn't pink.
Remove the chicken from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, prepare your fresh salad by chopping the veg and combining the oil, lemon juice and mustard to create a lovely dressing.