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Persepolitan roast chicken

A while back, keen to try a new cuisine, I bought the cookbook “Persia in Peckham: recipes from Persepolis” by Sally Butcher, from my all time favourite bookshop books for cooks. The book is a great resource for Iranian food and doesn’t take itself too seriously (there are a lot of tongue in cheek asides).
 
Mr M & I decided to try the Persepolitan roast chicken. We topped up on our Middle Eastern ingredients at Sonsa (150 – 152 Smith Street, Collingwood) and grabbed a very nice looking bird from Jonathans. The quality (and cost!) of the chook reminded me of an experience at the Chicken Pantry at Queen Victoria Market, where we purchased (as I termed it) a “chicken with a story” (organic, free-range, corn fed from a loving home) for an exorbitant cost. I will say that the Chicken Pantry chook and Jonathan’s chook were both very good.
 
On to the cooking, we assembled the ingredients for the stuffing. Behold, some delicious looking fruits and nuts:
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Stuffing - walnuts, pinenuts, almonds, sour cherry, barberries, figs and prunes

 And a few spices for the stuffing and the bird in general:

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Cardamom, saffron and cinnamon

The dried fruits were soaked* then chopped into smaller pieces.

* we forgot to soak them ahead of time, so made do with soaking them in boiling water for about 20 minutes while we got on with other preparation.

While we were cooking we indulged in some snacks from Sonsa (no they aren’t quite Persian): 

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Snacks: dolmades, hummus and katmer

The soaked fruit, nuts, tomato, cardamom and cinnamon were cooked up to make a pretty impressive stuffing.

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Stuffing ready to be stuffed

The chicken was stuffed, covered in a mixture of butter and saffron and placed in the oven.

Now, I did take pictures of the chicken before and after it was finished, but to be honest, they aren’t that great. I think I will blame my failure on Donna Hay’s wisdom from Masterchef  – meat is “too brown” and hard to style!

It was delicious though!!

Details

The chicken can be served with vegetables and roast potatoes, or with rice.

Sally explains that you can play with components of the stuffing, but that the important thing is to retain a degree of sharpness in the ingredients you use.

100g barberries, soaked
50g prunes, soaked and pitted
50g dried apricots or peaches, soaked (note we used figs, due to my stone fruit issues)
50g walnuts
50g pistachios and almonds
50g sour or morello cherries
150g butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tbs tomato pureee
Salt and pepper
A delicious chicken
1 tsp saffron threads covered in 1tsp boiling water
4-5 potatoes
Other vegies for roasting (we used carrot)

  • Drain the fruit and pat it dry. Chop the walnuts, prunes, apricots.
  • Melt 50g butter, fry fruit and nuts for 6-7 minutes.
  • Add cinnamon, cardamom and tomato puree. Cook some more, then take it off the heat.
  • Place the chook in a baking dish, season it and fill it with the stuffing. Fold the flap of skin over the stuffing.
  • Melt the remaining butter, add saffron and pour all over the chicken.
  • Place in a pre-heated oven 180 degrees, covered for 40 minutes.
  • Cut spuds into chip shape, sauté in butter and oil until golden.
  • Remove foil from chicken, baste it, arrange the potatoes around the chicken.
  • Put chicken back in oven for 35 minutes on 190 degrees until potato cooked and chicken crisp.
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