I love trying out new ingredients, so when my friend from IE Produce (an organic and specialty store) gave me a bag of freekeh, I was keen to have a go at it.
There are so many different types of grains you can get now – quinoa, farro, bulghur, millet, sorghum, amaranth – and freekeh is just another to add to the list. It’s high in fibre and has a low GI. Similar to other grains, you just need to cook it in boiling water or stock until tender, though freekeh did take a little bit longer than some of the others.
After having a look online for some inspiration, I came across a North African recipe for freekeh stuffed roast chicken. I liked the idea of it and so decided to come up with something along those lines (although not North African at all – kind of Spanish actually…). I also wanted to try a technique that I’d read about in a recent Taste magazine which is to roast the chicken breast side down to keep the breast nice and juicy (dry chicken breast = bleh). I was pleased with the way it turned out – even though the skin on the breast wasn’t crispy and brown, the flesh was lovely and moist which I much rather preferred (and besides, the skin on the other side made up for it anyway – you usually only get one side of the chicken nice and brown in my experience, unless it’s rotisserie).
You could easily substitute the freekeh if you don’t want to use it or can’t get it – I think that barley or bulghur wheat would also work really well. Serve this with a side of green vegetables or a salad – I roasted some brussel sprouts as you can see in the photos.
Roast chicken with freekeh, preserved lemon and chorizo stuffing
Ingredients for the stuffing
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 large preserved lemon, or 1 small preserved lemon, finely chopped2 Tbsp olive oil
2 raw chorizo sausages, casings removed
1 C freekeh
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 1/2 C water
a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves
Ingredients for the chicken
1 whole chicken
To make the stuffing, fry the onion until softened in olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and lemon and fry for a few more minutes. Add chorizo, breaking up the meat into small pieces, and continue to fry until browned.
Add freekeh, stir to coat and add the water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to gently simmer for about 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the freekeh is tender. Stir through the spinach until wilted. Season to taste and remove the bay leaf. (If you are not roasting the chicken straight away, leave the stuffing to cool.)
Fill the cavity of the chicken with some of the stuffing (you will not be able to fit it all in!). Tie up the chicken so that the stuffing won’t fall out. Rub the chicken with olive oil and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and the smoked paprika. Put the chicken on a rack in a large tray, breast side down.
Roll up the rest of the stuffing in foil in a log shape. Put it in the pan next to the chicken (but don’t crowd it). Roast at 190 degrees Celsius fan bake for 65-75 minutes or until the juices run clear.
Carve up the chicken and serve with the freekeh stuffing.
This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Lindsey from Sneaks & Sweets. You can check out her beautiful blog here.
You can find out more about Our Growing Edge by clicking here