Do you have something to celebrate? A new bride in the family? A new mother? The fact that it is Saturday?
1 whole chicken, pastured preferred
Rice and Meat Stuffing:
(Enough for extra to cook on the stove top or to stuff two chickens)
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup rice, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon butter
1 3/4 cups chicken stock or water
1/2 lb ground lamb or beef
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons yogurt
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
1 tsp Middle Eastern chicken seasoning, or all spice
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
1. Saute the diced onion in olive oil until translucent. Add rice and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add chicken broth or water, 1 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, 1 tsp all spice, and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Bring to a boil and then simmer until becoming tender, but not mushy, about 15 minutes.
2. Brown the meat, breaking up into small pieces with your spatula. Season with salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp all spice, and little cinnamon.
3. Saute the pine nuts in a tablespoon of butter, over low heat, stirring carefully and watching. They burn very easily.
4. In a bowl, combine the rice, meat, pine nuts and onions. Check seasonings.
5. Wash the chicken and pat dry inside and out and set it into a shallow roasting pan.
6. Divide the rice into two separate bowls, to prevent contamination. Reserve one bowl to serve with the chicken. Spoon stuffing from the other bowl into the cavity of the chicken, fitting as much as you can. Using toothpicks, secure the opening to the cavity as best as you can. If you prefer, you can sew the cavity closed.
7. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, yogurt and pomegranate molasses. Rub into the chicken breast. Salt and pepper the chicken liberally. Place some pats of butter under the breast skin, and rub a little more onto the chicken skin.
8. For a tender bird, slow roast the chicken using this method. Preheat oven to 300 F and roast the chicken. Roast until the chicken reaches 160 F, then turn the oven up to 375 F, baste the chicken with its juices and roast until the chicken's internal temperature reaches 180 F. This should take a total of two and a half to three hours, depending on the size of the chicken.
9. Cover with foil and let the chicken rest for five to ten minutes, for its juices to redistribute.
10. To make the most flavorful rice, pour some of the chicken drippings from the roast pan into the reserved rice stuffing and stir it in. Then try not to eat it all on the spot.
*You can purchase pomegranate molasses at Middle Eastern grocers, large grocery stores, or you can make it yourself. See recipe.