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Entertaining, Recipes

Summer entertaining: roasted chicken with quinoa stuffing

Yesterday I posted about the homemade peach and basil ravioli that I served as a starter at my latest dinner party. As a main course for the same dinner, I served roasted whole chickens with a pomegranate molasses glaze, stuffed with lemon-herb quinoa.

Roasted chicken is definitely my go-to dish when I want a foolproof and unfussy but yummy dinner, and I hardly think I’m the only cook who feels that way. The beauty of roasted chicken is that it is a really difficult dish to fuck up, and the possibilities for how to prepare it are endless. Of all the times I have made roasted chicken (and there have been quite a few), I think my end product was always slightly different every single time – but it has always been good. I am very much an improv type of cook, so I usually get my inspiration from recipes, but I rarely stick to them. Unlike baking, when I cook I always find a way to tweak the recipe, to mix-and-match several recipes, or to cook without a recipe altogether. And with something as classic as oven-roasted chicken, I always end up seasoning it based on my mood, the weather, and whatever is available in my kitchen so the outcome is always unique. This time, I decided to brine my birds first, to ensure extra moist and juicy chicken. I then stuffed the birds with a healthier version of bread stuffing, made of lemon-herb quinoa, and then brushed them with a pomegranate molasses mixture to give them a glaze. I made two chickens for this dinner party, but depending on the number of people you are cooking for, you can always scale the recipe up or down.

You will need:

For the brine:

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 2/3 cups honey
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 lemons

Combine brine ingredients in a large stock pot and whisk until salt and honey dissolve completely.

For the stuffing:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • handful chopped basil
  • handful chopped mint
  • handful chopped parsley

Place quinoa, water, and 1/4 cup lemon juice into a medium pot, and bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to bring pot down to a simmer, cover with a lid, and let cook for 10-15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. In the meantime, combine remaining 1/4 cup lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork and stir in the lemon-oil-herb mixture, tossing to combine evenly.

For the chicken:

  • 2 medium chickens (about 2.5 kg each)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • handful chopped parsley
  • handful chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (I used a mix of red, orange, and yellow ones)

Wash chickens thoroughly with water, including inside cavity, and place into pot containing brine. Refrigerate pot for 4-6 hours.

Remove chickens from brine and drain liquid from inside cavity. Pat dry with paper towels. Place 1/2 tbsp butter into the cavity of each chicken, and sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper. Next, loosely spoon quinoa mixture into the cavities. Place chickens in a roasting pan.

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.

Combine pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, chili flakes, minced garlic, and chopped herbs. Pulse in a food processor to combine well. Brush outside of each chicken with the mixture using a pastry brush, making sure to coat the entire surface. Place roasting pan in oven, and immediately turn down oven temperature to 120C/250F, and roast for about 60-90 minutes, basting occasionally using pan juices. About 20 minutes before the chicken is ready, add cherry tomatoes to the pan in the oven. Roast chicken until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.

Take chicken out of the oven and cover in aluminum foil. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.

(You can use the pan drippings to make a gravy for your chicken: over the hob, de-glaze the roasting pan with 1/4 cup white wine. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, and cook until it reduces by about 1/3. Add flour as needed to thicken the gravy, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a gravy boat.)

In good health




One thought on “Summer entertaining: roasted chicken with quinoa stuffing

  1. This looks divine!!!!! <3

    Posted by priyankaskitchen | July 10, 2012, 8:38 PM

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