A succulent roast chook, typically eaten on Christmas Day on the Balearic islands of Spain, with a delightful spiced stuffing.
- 1 1.8 kg (4 lb) chicken
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) grape juice (mosto) or verjuice
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) sherry vinegar
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) vi ranci or port
- 2 tsp chopped marjoram or oregano leaves
- sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 tbsp sobrassada (see Note) or 1 fresh chorizo sausage, de-cased
- 200 g (7 oz) pork and fennel sausages, de-cased
- 30 g (1 oz/¼ cup) raisins
- 90 g (3 oz) black grapes, quartered
- 50 g (1¾ oz) freshly blitzed breadcrumbs
- 20 g (¾ oz) slivered almonds, toasted
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
- 20 g (¾ oz) good-quality lard or butter
- 1 tsp honey
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Rinse the chicken inside and out, then pat dry with paper towel. Transfer to a wire rack, breast side up, set over a roasting tin and place in the fridge for the skin to dry out a little.
- Make a basting dressing in a bowl with the grape juice, vinegar, vi ranci or port and marjoram or oregano. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaf and cook for 12–15 minutes, until the onion is golden. Increase the heat to high and add the sobrassada, then stir through the sausage meat and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, add the raisins, grapes, breadcrumbs, almonds, cinnamon and tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) fan-forced. Remove the chicken from the fridge.
- Roll three-quarters of the stuffing into three large balls, compacting the mixture between your hands and squeezing to bind. Pack each ball tightly into the chicken. Wrap the remaining stuffing in baking paper and a layer of foil and set aside.
- Rub the lard all over the chicken and pour half the basting dressing into the roasting tin with 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) of water. Roast for 45 minutes, then remove the tin and turn over the chicken. Give the liquid in the tin a stir and puncture a few holes into the chicken with a kitchen skewer. Turn back over, baste the top of the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the dressing, then return to the oven, along with the remaining stuffing and roast for another 30 minutes.
- Increase the temperature to 220°C (430°F) and remove the tin again. Turn the chicken back over and pierce a few more holes on each side of the spine. Turn breast side up again, baste with another 2 tablespoons of dressing and add a little more water to the tin if the liquid is drying out. Roast for another 8–10 minutes, until the skin is golden and crisp.
- Turn the oven off, open the door to let the heat out and leave the chicken to rest for 12–15 minutes.
- Combine any remaining pan juices in a jug with the last of the dressing and the honey. Serve the chicken with the dressing and extra stuffing on the side.
• Sobrassada, a spreadable salami-like paste, can be purchased at delicatessens or online in Australia.
Recipes and images from Islas: Food of the Spanish Islands by Emma Warren, Smith Street Books, RRP $49.99