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This dinner is a perfect family meal for a warm winter night. The chicken is extremely moist and full of flavor that is well accompanied by the saffron pearl couscous and roasted butternut squash. This recipe will take you having to feel out your spices as everyone's spices are different. For example, my cinnamon from Sri Lanka isn't sweet and is very mild in flavor so it is perfect for savory dishes. Trust that you will be able to use your hands to feel how much sprinkling you really need. It's always ok to taste and go back for more!

 

Ingredients:

Pearl Couscous:

1 cup pearl couscous

1 3/4 cup of water, plus 2 tbsp of hot water

1 tbsp of butter

Pinch of saffron

Handful of golden raisins, chopped

Handful of roasted pistachios, chopped

1/2 tsp of cumin

salt & pepper, to taste

 

Butternurt Squash:

1 butternut squash, peeled and seeds removed, cut into cubes

Some extra virgin olive oil

Sprinkle of cardamom

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Sprinkle of sea salt

 

Chicken:

1 whole roasting chicken, 3-5 pounds

Some cardamom

Some sea salt

Some freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup of unsalted butter

Some extra virgin olive oil

1 apple, core removed and cut into quarters

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 450 F;

Prepare a baking dish large enough to hold your chicken. I prefer this over a sheet pan to collect the delicious juice this dish creates that is amazing over the couscous;

With the chicken breast side up, slice the skin between the thigh and the breast. This helps the chicken cook all the way through. Make sure you place a little olive oil underneath the chicken in the baking dish;

Slice the butter into very thin pieces and separate the skin from the meat. Take the butter slices and place it under the skin with your fingers. You should do this anywhere you possible can lift the skin and also place two slices of butter where you cut the skin in the previous step;

Rub the skin of the chicken with the cardamom, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I don't give you measurements because each chicken is different and you should just be taking a good pinchful at a time of each to cover the chicken. Ratio wise, there should be more cardamom than salt and freshly ground black pepper. Make sure the dry rub it spread thoroughly through;

Stuff the chicken with the apple quarters;

Sprinkle the chicken with some olive oil and then loosely cover it with aluminum foil. Place it in the oven on a middle rack for 20 minutes;

In the meantime, toss the butternut squash in some olive oil and place the cubes on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt, cardamom and cinnamon and allow it to rest until time to start baking.

Place the pinch of saffron in a small bowl with the two tablespoons of very hot water and let it sit and soak.

After the 20 minutes has completed, turn down the oven to 350 F and remove the aluminum foil. Place the butternut squash sheet pan in a rack underneath the chicken. Bake the chicken and butternut squash for another 45 minutes for a three pound chicken, and add another 15 minutes per pound for a 4 or 5 pound chicken;

Twenty minutes before the chicken is ready, boil the water for the couscous in a medium sized pot. When the water is boiling, add the butter and the couscous and bring the water back to a boil over medium high heat;

Once it comes back to a boil, add the saffron water, cumin and some salt and reduce down to low heat and let it cover and cook for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. I like to add a little chicken stock if I have some for flavor, especially if the couscous needs some more liquid which you should be able to tell when stirring and if it feels like it may start to stick to the bottom of the pan;

Remove the chicken and butternut squash from the oven when cooked and rest before serving;

Remove the couscous from the heat and add the golden raisins and some salt to taste. Place in serving bowl and sprink with roasted pistachios; and

Serve immediately all together!