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This delicious lemony and sweet cous cous stuffing takes ordinary roast chicken up several notches with just a teensy bit more effort.

IngredientsBrought to you by Essential Kids'

  • For the stuffing
  • 70g (1 small packet) pine nuts
  • 4 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, finely diced
  • 1 fat clove garlic, finely diced
  • 6 dates, pitted then finely chopped (or you could use a handful of sultanas or raisins)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup boiling hot chicken stock (or hot water and a stock cube)
  • 1/2 cup parsley, coarsley chopped
  • 1 cup cous cous
  • For the rest
  • 1 large, good quality chicken
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • Assorted vegetables for roasting (pumpkin, capsicum, potatoes, red onions and sweet potatoes, or any others that you like)
  • Extra salt and pepper to season vegetables
  • Green salad leaves

Method

Put a frying pan on the stove over a medium heat and toss in the pine nuts. Toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until the nuts are tinged with brown bits all over. Set aside and place the pan back on the heat.

Drizzle in 4 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan. Add the diced onions and capsicum. Saute these for 5-6 minutes or until the onion is beginning to caramelise around the edges and the capsicum is soft. Add the garlic to the pan and stir until fragrant, about a minute.

Turn off the heat and add the cinnamon, chopped dates, lemon juice and zest to the pan, stirring to combine with the oil and other ingredients. Then add the dry cous cous, toasted pine nuts and hot stock. Stir to combine. Finally add the chopped parsley, taste for seasoning with salt and pepper then set aside to cool.

Turn on your oven to preheat to 220ºC. Using a paper towel, pat the skin of the chicken dry. Drizzle with a little olive oil and rub into the skin. Season generously with the sea salt and rub well into the skin.

Take the cooled stuffing and place it into the cavity of the chicken making sure you do not pack it in too tightly. Place the chicken onto a large baking sheet and then into the hot oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare your vegetables for roasting by cutting into chunks, drizzling with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

After 20 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven and drop the temperature down to 180ºC. Carefully place the vegetables on the tray alongside the chicken then place the whole tray back into the oven for one hour.

Serve the chicken on a big platter surrounded by the roasted vegetables and with a simple green salad.

Why you should make it ...

Nigella Lawson once proclaimed that given the choice, her last meal on earth would be a roast chicken. I tend to agree wholeheartedly with her on this. Roast chicken probably makes an appearance on our dinner table at least once a week because it’s comforting, easy to make and I know that everybody will be happy with it.

Just because you eat it all the time doesn’t mean it has to be boring or the same each time you make it. I recently came up with this delicious lemony and sweet cous cous stuffing that takes ordinary roast chicken up several notches with just a teensy bit more effort.

The cous cous stuffing is really just a delicious cous cous salad, but when stuffed inside the cavity of a bird, it participates in a clever flavour exchange. While it perfumes the chicken with lemon, garlic, onion and cinnamon, it in turn soaks up deeply savoury chickeny juices.

The recipe makes enough to stuff two chickens, but if you’re only making one bird, never fear. The cous cous stuffing is just as gorgeous on its own the next day for lunch. You won’t be sorry to have extra on hand.

Kristy is a mother of three who loves feeding her family wholesome, nutritious and above all delicious food. She has her own food blog called "The Life She Made where she posts family style recipes and talks about life as a stay at home mother.

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