Roast Chicken Stuffed with Raisins and Pine Nuts from Yasmin Khan's "Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen"

Roast chicken is a mainstay in my house, so when I heard there was a Palestinian version stuffed with aromatic rice and dotted with dried fruits and nuts, I had to try it. This delights and soothes in equal measure, with its warming flavors of cinnamon and allspice. It originated from The Galilee and is often served there on special occasions, such as at Easter or Christmas. It is so straightforward to make and delicious, I’m sure it will become a regular dish in your house, too, once you try it.

Serves 4–6

For the chicken and marinade

  • 31/4 lb./1.5kg whole chicken
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the stuffing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or any neutral oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons/25g pine nuts
  • 21/2 tablespoons/25g raisins 
  • 1/4 cup/45g white basmati rice
  • 1 cup/250ml gluten-free chicken stock

Place the chicken on a baking pan. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl, seasoning with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, then pour it all over the chicken, making sure to rub some inside the cavity. Cover with plastic wrap, then place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Make the stuffing by heating the cooking oil in a pan, then frying the onion over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, spices, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Then add the pine nuts and raisins, cooking for a minute or so until the nuts have slightly browned. Add the rice and stock, place a lid on the pot and cook for 10 minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid.

Take the chicken out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you cook it so that it returns to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Stuff the rice mixture into the cavity, then tie the chicken legs together with kitchen string to keep the stuffing in place.

Roast for 1 hour 20 minutes, basting after about 1 hour to stop it drying out, or until the juices run clear when the bird is pierced with a sharp knife down to the bone between leg and body. Cover with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Reprinted with permission from Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen by Alana Kysar, Copyright © 2019. Published by W.W. Norton & Company.

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