Middle Eastern roast chicken with saffron couscous

Servings Prep Time Cook Time
4-6servings 30minutes 1hour 25 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6servings 30minutes
Cook Time
1hour 25 minutes
Servings: servings
Servings: servings
  1. Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water and dry with paper towel. Put into a large, lightly greased roasting pan. 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.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (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.
  3. 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 toothpick. Put the onion wedges into the cavity of the body (or, if you prefer, arrange them in the pan 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. Serve with the couscous and onions.
Recipe Notes

Cook's tip: The chicken can be marinated a day in advance and the couscous stuffing prepared ahead of time. Don't stuff the chicken until just before you are ready to cook it.

Variation: For an Indian-style recipe, replace the couscous with basmati rice, slightly under-cooked. Omit the saffron and stock, replace the pistachios with toasted cashews, and use a chopped beefsteak tomato in place of the figs. Flavour with 1⁄2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro and plenty of pepper.

Each serving (6): 52.5 g protein, 30 g fat of which 7.5 g saturates, 23.5 g carbohydrate, 3 g fibre, 579 Calories