Roast Chicken Stuffed with Dates & Nuts

My butcher really annoyed me today. I asked him to debone a chicken for me. He certainly lived up to his title of butcher as the resulting chicken looked like it had been hacked apart by a rabid Rottweiler (hence the dodgy picture above). The guy had NO idea! I didn’t notice until I’d already made the stuffing for the bird. I made the most of a bad job and did my best to secure the stuffing with a handful of toothpicks and a ball of kitchen string. The lovely fruity, light stuffing packed with Middle Eastern flavours was a great alternative to the rich, claggy stuffings I normally go for. It complimented the chicken perfectly.

1.5kg chicken (boned)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 slice bacon (finely chopped)
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh mint (chopped)
zest 1/2 lemon
juice 1 lemon
2 tablespoons crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons pine nuts
6 pitted dates (chopped)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Ask your butcher to debone your chicken, leaving the legs and wing bones in.

Preheat oven to 200ºC.

Lay the chicken out, skin side down and flatten out with your hands. Combine all the stuffing ingredients together and place in a mound on the chicken. Wrap the flesh back around and seal the edges together with a few toothpicks. Turn over the chicken and tie together the two legs with kitchen string. Drizzle with olive oil and rub all over the chicken.

Bake in the oven, basting occasionally, for 75 minutes or until the juices run clear when skewered between the leg and breast joint.

Serve with vegetables, rice pilaf or salad.

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