I prefer serving a roast chicken as part of the mains for my dinner menu. Served in a stylish platter with a lovely dinner table arrangement, it has a stunning effect on the guests.
I have noticed a recent trend of using smaller birds likes poussins in a large festive platter and they look delish.
This recipe works well either way.
For The Roast Chicken, You Will Need:
1 large chicken, whole about 1.5 -1.8 kg or (4 poussins (about 500g each))
200ml orange juice (about 3-4 oranges), plus 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2½ tbsp pomegranate molasses ( this is Pomegranate juice, reduced to a simmer over heat, to yield a thickened syrup)
3 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 large cinnamon sticks, broken in half or 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder
2-4 red or green chillies, cut in half lengthways but with stems intact and seeds in or 1 tsp red chilli flakes
3 tbsp olive oil
4 bay leaves
20g thyme sprigs or 1 tsp dry mix herbs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Prior To Baking
1/3 tsp salt
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 2cm-wide wedges
2 oranges, cut into 5mm rounds
¼ tsp brown sugar (for the oranges)
2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or normal butter
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 large pomegranate (seeds)
2-3 tbsp chopped mint and parsley leaves (garnish, optional)
Making The Roast Chicken:
Preparing The Chicken
1. In a small bowl or a jug, place all the ingredients listed in ‘Marination’ above. Mix well.
2. Place the chicken (poussins) in a large bowl. Cut in some slits on the chicken and use a fork to lightly poke the flesh.
3. Pour the marinade over the chicken and leave on for at least two hours, preferably overnight. Spoon the mixture over the chicken a few times to make sure the entire surface stays well-coated.
Baking The Chicken
1. Heat the oven to 200C.
2. Take a large, high-sided baking tray/ pan (chicken should be able sit comfortably in it)
3. Place the chicken breast-side up in the pan.
4. Pour the extra marinade around the chicken, then sprinkle with salt.
5. Cover tightly with foil and roast for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and raise the temperature to 220C.
7. Baste the bird and add the onions and orange slices to the tray now, spreading them evenly.
8. Place the chicken back in the oven, bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and pierce with a fork in the thickest part, (usually under the thigh), if the juices run clear, it’s cooked, otherwise place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. The chicken should be nicely browned.
9. Remove the chicken and orange slices from the pan and pour the marinade into a small saucepan.
10. Return the chicken to the pan, and cover with the foil to keep warm.
11. Place the saucepan with the marinade on high heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, till about 150ml (3/4 cup) of liquid is remaining. Remove from the heat and set aside.
12. Lay the orange slices on a small parchment-lined oven tray, sprinkle with the brown sugar and return to the oven for 10 minutes, until they start to caramelise, then remove and set aside.
At the time of serving:
1. Place the chicken in a large platter, pour over the reduced marinade and line with the orange slices.
2. Place a small frying pan on medium heat and add in the ghee/ butter to melt.
3. Once melted, remove from fire and add the cumin seeds . Wait for a minute, until aromatic.
4. Spoon over the chicken and serve.
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