Garlic-stuffed chicken with pistachio, sour cherry and herb pilaf

Garlic-stuffed chicken with pistachio, sour cherry and herb pilaf
  • Serves icon Serves 6
  • Time icon Hands-on time 35 min, oven time 1½ hours

Garlic-buttery juices from the roasted chicken adds even more flavour to this herby rice pilaf recipe.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
621kcals
Fat
23.4g (9.3g saturated)
Protein
50.8g
Carbohydrates
50.8g (9.6g sugars)
Fibre
2g
Salt
0.6g
Calories
621kcals
Fat
23.4g (9.3g saturated)
Protein
50.8g
Carbohydrates
50.8g (9.6g sugars)
Fibre
2g
Salt
0.6g

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed, to taste
  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 15g fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1.6kg free-range chicken

For the pilaf

  • 300g long-grain rice, well rinsed
  • 350ml gold top, full-cream milk
  • 500ml quality fresh chicken stock
  • 60g dried sour cherries (we like Forest Feast), chopped
  • 100g shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 2 preserved lemons
  • Large bunch each fresh coriander and mint, roughly chopped
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • Aleppo chilli flakes or 1 red chilli, finely chopped, to scatter 

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas 3. Grate the zest of the lemon into a small bowl, then set the fruit aside. Add the garlic, butter, dill and some seasoning, then mix with a fork. Loosen the skin around the neck of the chicken and, using your fingers, make two pockets between the breast and the skin. Work the butter into the pockets, as far back as you can reach. Put the zested lemon into the cavity, then scatter sea salt all over the outside of the bird and set aside. 
  2. In a large ovenproof dish, mix the rice, milk and chicken stock, then season with a little salt. Put the chicken in the top third of the oven, directly on the oven rack, then put the rice underneath so it will catch all the juices as the chicken cooks. Cook for 1 hour 15 minutes. The rice should be tender after this time – remove it from the oven and set aside somewhere warm while the chicken finishes cooking.
  3. Place a roasting tin underneath the chicken and continue to roast for 15 minutes. Check it’s cooked by pushing a digital probe thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (by the body) – it should read around 70°C. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a metal skewer into the same place – if the skewer feels piping hot when lightly pressed to the underside of your wrist, the chicken is cooked. Put the chicken on a board, remove the lemon from the cavity and allow to rest for 15 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, scatter the cherries and nuts over the rice. Slice the preserved lemons into quarters. Cut away and discard the inner flesh, then finely chop the rind and scatter over the rice with the herbs and lemon juice. Gently mix everything together, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Carve the chicken into slices or joints and scatter the chilli over the rice. Serve immediately, with a green salad on the side, if you like. 

delicious. tips

  1. The inspiration for this dish came from a list of Ottoman dishes cooked for the Sultan in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace. Their chicken was set on a rotisserie, but I loved the idea of letting the juices drip down into the rice, which is what I’ve done in this recipe.

    Preserved lemons are a North African staple: thin-skinned lemons are packed in a jar with water and salt, which removes the sharpness but intensifies the citrus flavour and imbues it with salt. I prefer to cut out the flesh inside as it can taste medicinal, but use it all if you want to.

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