Roast Chicken with Fig Pistachio Couscous Stuffing

Roast Chicken with Fig Pistachio Couscous Stuffing

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About this recipe: Here is a middle eastern style roast chicken with a fig and pistachio couscous stuffing.It's basted with a honey- spiced lemon marinade to keep the meat deliciously moist. A leafy salad with fresh oranges would make a great side dish.

Zoë Harpham

Serves: 4 

  • 1 large chicken (about 1.5 kg)
  • 1 lemon, zest grated and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 small red onions, each cut into six wedges
  • 300 g couscous
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock, hot
  • 75 g roughly chopped dried figs
  • 50 g shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped

Prep:30min  ›  Cook:1hr25min  ›  Ready in:1hr55min 

  1. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water and dry with paper towel. Put into a large, lightly greased roasting pan.
  2. Mix the lemon zest and juice with the honey, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Brush some of this mixture generously inside the cavity of the bird, then over the outside. Leave to marinate while making the stuffing or for longer, if convenient. Reserve the rest of the marinade.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the couscous into a heatproof bowl. Stir the saffron into the stock, then pour over the couscous. Cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the figs and pistachios. Season to taste.
  4. Spoon some of the couscous mixture into the neck end of the chicken. Fold the neck skin over and secure with the wing tips or with a wooden cocktail stick. Put the onion wedges into the cavity of the body (or, if you prefer, arrange them in the tin around the bird after it has been roasting for 40 minutes). Spoon the rest of the spiced lemon juice mixture over the chicken and roast for 1 hour.
  5. Spoon the remaining couscous around the chicken and roast for a further 25 minutes. To test if the bird is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the thigh: the juices should run clear and the internal temperature should be 75ºC.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, loosely cover with foil to keep warm and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Remove the skin before serving, if desired. Serve with the couscous and onions.

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