35g dried cranberries or dried sour cherries
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus 4 extra fresh thyme sprigs
45g butter, softened
2.2kg free-range chicken
2 pears, quartered and cored
2 apples, cored and cut into 8 wedges
4 plums, halved and stoned
2 red onions, cut into wedges
2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
(sh) For the quinoa
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
750ml fresh chicken stock, hot
Extra-virgin olive oil or 20g butter
3 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
1. Cover the cranberries or cherries in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain. Preheat the oven to 190°C/ fan170°C/gas 5. Mash the thyme leaves into 30g of the butter and season. Carefully lift the skin off the chicken breast and stuff with some of the thyme butter. Ease the skin from the legs in the same way. Push in the remaining thyme butter. Put the chicken in a roasting tin, season the outside and roast for 1 hour.
2. Toss all the fruit and the onions together in a bowl with the extra thyme sprigs, some salt, pepper, the sugar and the olive oil. Remove the chicken from the oven and put the fruit and onions all round the chicken (try not to have the berries on top as they can burn – keep them underneath the fruit). Stir the fruit around to coat in the cooking juices. Dot with the remaining butter and return to the oven for a further 45 minutes, turning the fruit once during this cooking time.
3. Start making the quinoa 20 minutes before the chicken is ready. Put it in a sieve and wash it well – this just removes any residue. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and gently sauté until soft. Add the quinoa and stir until well coated in the oil. Add the stock, season and cook for 20 minutes, until the grains are soft. Cover, for 5 minutes, then fluff up with a fork. Add some olive oil or butter and the parsley.
4. Serve the chicken on a warm platter surrounded by the fruit with the quinoa in a bowl on the side.
- A rich, buttery white is just the ticket here. Try a bright, bold New Zealand Chardonnay which will have a crisp, fresh note as well as plenty of juicy, ripe fruit.