Photo by: Colin Campbell

Sumac-marinated baby chickens stuffed with bulgar & lamb

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4 baby chickens
1 bunch mixed hard herbs (bay leaves, rosemary, sage, thyme), to line the serving dish
Greek yogurt, to serve
For the marinade
70ml vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp paprika
2½ tsp sumac
1 tsp ground allspice
½ tbsp salt

For the stuffing:
100g butter
260g lamb mince
90g bulgur wheat
220ml water or chicken stock
1 tsp ground allspice
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
40g pine nuts
40g peeled pistachios
40g sliced almonds

A variation on a Palestinian dish that was served on special occasions at Sami's home. They normally used a regular chicken and the stuffing was made with rice, not bulgar. Still, the idea is the same: a sweet, spiced minced lamb stuffing flavoured by the bird's juices as it cooks. It's incredibly delicious and, when the birds are brought to the table on one platter, dramatic. This goes well with sprouts, root vegetables and slaw. Serves four.

Method

Whisk the marinade ingredients until smooth, pour over the birds and massage in, inside and out. Cover and refrigerate for from one to 24 hours.
To prepare the stuffing, melt a tablespoon of butter in a medium pan. When very hot, add the mince and brown over high heat, stirring from time to time, for five minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the bulgar, water or stock, spices, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for five minutes. The bulgar should absorb all the liquid.
Meanwhile, fry the pine nuts in a pan with half the remaining butter for a minute, add the pistachios and cook for three to four minutes, until the nuts turn golden - take care not to burn them. Add to the bulgar, stir, taste and adjust the seasoning. If you are going to roast the chickens straight away, you can use the stuffing while it is still warm. Otherwise let it cool before filling the birds. Keep refrigerated until you're ready to cook.
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the stuffed chickens in a large roasting dish, pour about 250ml of water around them and cover with foil. Roast for 35 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190C/375F/gas mark 5, remove the foil and roast for another 20 minutes or so, until golden and cooked through. Check by piercing the thickest part of the leg with a skewer - the juices should run clear. Transfer to a platter lined with hard herbs and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in a pan, add the almonds and season. Sauté for three to four minutes, until golden, then tip over the birds. Serve with Greek yogurt on the side.

Perfect with

  1. Pine nuts

    These elegant and longer-than-usual nuts are for sprinkling and showcasing

    Pine nuts
    £4.95

  2. Sumac

    Yotam's desert island spice, for a lemony kick to your cooking

    Sumac
    £3.20

  3. Earth and zest spice collection

    Four fresh and zesty ways to elevate your cooking in one neat set.

    Earth and zest spice collection
    £15.00

Reviews

{based on 4 reviews}

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  • Recipes Yummo
    (08/09/2016) This is a really savoury dish, simple and so so tasty, bland??? nah, I marinated over night and the result was a moist chicken with the lovely heady depth of the spices giving enough flavour but not overpowering the meat, I loved the stuffing which would make lovely little meatballs on its own, great dish.
  • Recipes Not so good
    (30/10/2015) Sorry Ottolenghi, i love your recipes but i found this one far too bland and if it wasn't for your sprout recipe i used alongside it then my dinner party would have been a disaster, Not for us and i won't be making it again i'm afraid

    RESPONSE:
    "Hi Michelle,
    Sorry to hear this wasn't for you! We are a little surprised to hear that you found the dish bland - there is so much flavour going on there! - but ingredients can vary so much: the sharp astringency of sumac (or not), for example, can really affect the outcome of the dish. Anyway, sorry again to hear that you weren't a fan and all the best with your next feast!
    With best wishes, The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen"
  • Recipes A real dinner party show stopper
    (18/12/2013) I cooked this recipe for friends I really wanted to spoil and it worked brilliantly first time. Serving all the poussin together on a platter made it a real showstopper. Very straightforward too, marinaded in advance and cooked when guests arrived. I doubled up the bulgar as the grain dish for the meal so that was simple too. Oh, and I was cooking for a friend who is nut-allergic so substituted the nuts in the stuffing with Ottolenghi barberries and it was delicious!
  • Recipes Perfect Blend of Spices and Easy to Make
    (13/10/2013) The measurements were spot on, as well as the timing of the chicken in the oven. I had no minced lamb so I just used bulgar to stuff the chicken.....the balance of the seasonings were perfect....I can taste the cinammon, all spice and just about everything that went in.
    Its easy enough to make, but I think a key part of the flavour of this chicken is the marinating.....the flavors blended well, and marinated mines a day ahead!