This year, Maggie and I have been cooking whole chickens more often than usual, having discovered that Peter Bouchier, one of our favourite butchers, stocks a high-quality free-range chicken at a reasonable price.
At first, we prepared these using a fairly traditional bread-herbs-and-friends stuffing and then roasting the chicken. But we are always open to trying new ways of cooking chicken. A recipe on a local website for a ‘Moroccan-style’ roast chicken sounded appealing, so we gave it a try. You will find the original recipe here.
Here is my dinner plate, including sweet pieces of roast pumpkin and some wilted spinach. (Both pumpkin and fresh or cooked spinach are great partners for this chicken dish.)
We were reasonably happy with the result but we could think of a few ways we could make it better suited to our palates, along with a couple of modifications to the method.
Here are the changes we made to the recipe for our second attempt, which involved two chickens, to be shared with eight friends visiting us for lunch.
- Two-thirds of the quantity of stuffing ingredients is more than enough for one chicken
- We prefer to use French shallots instead of an onion in a stuffing
- We substituted 1/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon powder for the cinnamon stick
- We substituted almond flakes for the pistachios
- The quantity of dates is very much a matter of personal choice. We think you should always be cautious when combining sweet items with meat in a cooking process. We like the flavour of fresh dates but we used about 10% less than the recipe
- At our first attempt, the cinnamon in the glaze overwhelmed the other ingredients. We replaced it with powdered ginger, added an equal amount of powdered coriander seed and boosted the cumin by at least one third
- We always begin to roast a stuffed chicken by putting it into a cold oven as we turn the heat on. This helps to ensure that the meat nearest to the stuffed cavity cooks through
- It is much easier to apply the glaze after the chicken has been in the oven for 15-20 minutes from its cold start. And we kept some glaze in reserve to add once or twice more as the chicken cooked.
- We set the oven temperature to be 180C. However, when we opened the oven to apply extra glaze, we could see that the honey was burning. So, we turned the temp down to 170. Next time, we would set the temp at 170C from the get go. (If we had followed the recipe and cooked at 200C, I think the end result would have been black all over; might even have caught on fire!)
As the summer season draws near, we’ll probably take a break from preparing meals of roast chicken but we will definitely look forward to returning to this dish in 2022.
Cheers for now!