Gayna al Orno

Roast Chicken with Apples and Pomegranate

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Cooking chicken with fruit is part of a long established Hispano-Arabic tradition. In this Turkish recipe from Sefarad Yemekleri, green apples and pomegranate combine to make a festive winter dish for the Sabbath or the holidays. A similar recipe also appears in Le feste ebraiche, published by the Jewish community of Rome. Upon reading this recipe, my concern was that the chicken would fall apart if roasted for 1½ hours and then roasted again for another 30 minutes to cook the potatoes. So I decided to roast the chicken in the first phase for only 1 to a ¼ hours, and to parboil the potatoes so that the second cooking phase would be shorter as well. After making the recipe the first time, I discovered that the onions in the stuffing had a slightly unpleasant raw taste that remained even after all that time in the oven. To solve the problem, I now sauté the onions briefly before adding them to the apples.

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Ingredients

  • 1 roasting chicken, 4½ to 5 pounds
  • sunflower or olive oil for rubbing on chicken, plus 6 tablespoons
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large lemon, halved
  • 2 onions, grated
  • 2 tart green apples such as granny smith seeds of 1 pomegranate
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 pounds new potatoes, peeled, halved if small, quartered if large, and then parboiled for 8 minutes

Method

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken and rub the outside and the cavity with the oil, salt, pepper, and the cut sides of the halved lemon. Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves and reserve. You should have about 4 tablespoons.

Warm 2 tablespoons of the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and the raw taste is gone, almost 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and let cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, core and grate the apples. When the onions have cooled a bit, add the apples, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the pomegranate seeds, and a nice sprinkle of salt. Mix well and stuff the mixture into the cavity. Truss closed and place on a rack in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 4 tablespoons oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Place the chicken in the oven and roast, basting every 10 minutes or so with the oil mixture, for 1 to 1¼ hours, using the longer time for a larger bird. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Leave the oven set at 375 degrees F. Remove the rack from the pan, and add the water to the roasting pan.

Scoop the stuffing into a bowl. Cut the chicken into serving pieces and place it in the baking pan. Spoon the stuffing into the center of the chicken pieces, and surround with the potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes, turning the potatoes over once after they begin to take on color.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the chicken, stuffing, and potatoes to a platter. Serve at once.