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  • Writer's pictureLydia Gerratt

Roast chicken with a fragrant rice stuffing

Roast chicken with a fragrant rice stuffing

I love roast chicken. When it’s made well, it’s brilliant.

The base of this recipe, the fragrant rice stuffing, seems to cross quite a few countries in the Middle East, Greece and the Balkans – I suspect it originates from those culinary masters, The Ottomans, who colonised all of these countries in their time.

My mum uses the same rice stuffing for roast duck and she was given her recipe by a Greek friend in the 1960’s.

Don’t be put off by the walnuts and sultanas. Once they are finely chopped and mixed in with the spices the overall flavour of the rice is that of savoury richness and definitely not a fruit & nut mix!

A green salad with olive oil, lemon and salt and some green beans is all you need on the table to go with this chicken.

Miraculous ingredients: Tilda basmati rice, cardamom pods, cinnamon, Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients chicken stock, whole chicken (free range or organic), whole milk full fat yoghurt

Roast chicken with a fragrant rice stuffing


Rice stuffing ½ cup white Basmati rice (Tilda is an excellent quality brand) 1 small onion, finely chopped 3 whole green cardamom pods ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 cup Chicken stock (Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients chicken stock is the best) 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped 2 tablespoons sultanas, finely chopped 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

Chicken 1.5kg whole chicken 2 tablespoons of whole milk full fat yoghurt (Greek yoghurt is lovely and thick) 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Coarse sea salt


Pre heat the oven to 180C (fan oven).

First make the rice stuffing. Place a small sauce pan that has a tight fitting lid on a medium heat. Add the oil and the finely chopped onions. Fry for 5 minutes and allow the onions too slightly brown and caramelise.

Add the cardamom pods and fry for another few minutes. Add the Basmati rice and stir so the grains are coated in the oil. Add the cinnamon, all the chicken stock, ½ teaspoon of sea salt and stir. Once the stock starts to simmer, put the lid on and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Set the timer for 15 minutes and do NOT lift the lid.

Once the 15 minutes are up, turn the heat off but do NOT remove the lid. After 10 minutes with the lid on, open it and remove all the cardamom pods (they float to the top so they’re easy to pick out). Fork the rice to separate the grains and stir in the finely chopped walnuts, sultanas and parsley.

Mix together the yoghurt, honey and olive oil.

Fill the chicken’s cavity with the rice stuffing, secure with toothpicks and tie the legs with kitchen string. Place the chicken in a baking dish, brush generously with the yoghurt, honey and olive oil mix and season with salt. Place in the oven – the chicken will roast for a total of 1 hour and 20 minutes.

After the first 30 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven, brush the chicken with some more of the yoghurt, honey and olive oil mix and cover tightly with foil and seal the edges. Put the chicken back in the oven and roast for another 40 minutes. Finally, remove the foil and return to the oven for the final 10 minutes to brown the skin.

Once the chicken is ready, remove it from the oven and leave to rest on a warm plate covered with foil for 20 minutes before serving.

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking 1 hour 20 minutes, 4 adult portions


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