The bird is the word

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First up this week is Spiced roast chicken with chickpeas (garbanzos) and cauliflower. Roast chicken is the ultimate satisfying Winter dinner, don’t you think? We like ours spiced with a cheat’s chermoula – a simple mixture of dried spices and olive oil. The chicken is succulent, golden and crispy; and served on a bed of roasted cauliflower, potatoes, pumpkin and chickpeas.
I love roasting pieces of chicken instead of a whole bird. You can buy individual Maryland pieces if you’re not up to hacking into a raw chicken. With pieces, the baking time is less, and there is no need to turn the chook half-way through cooking. The vegetables and chickpeas soak up some of the juices from the chicken and taste amazing. I often roast this chicken dish on a Sunday, knowing there is a mid-week meal (mostly) taken care of as well.
By reserving half the chickpeas, roast cauliflower and chicken pieces; you can conjure up a fantastic Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet (Swiss chard) pilaf with preserved lemon, later in the week. My neighbour presented us with a jar of beautiful home-made preserved lemons (thanks Tracey), and they were such a fab, zesty addition to the pilaf.
Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for suggestions on how many planned-overs to prepare for the pilaf. I haven’t included Fussy Kid Tips, as both my boys love these meals, even the 5-year old (although he peels off the ‘yukky’ chicken skin – his loss). Enjoy.

Individual roast chicken pieces with cauliflower

[Recipe 1] Spiced roast chicken with chickpeas and cauliflower

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
¼ cup olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 8 wedges
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
Approx. 350g (12 oz) pumpkin, cut into chunks
250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos), soaked overnight (or canned, see notes)
2 whole chickens (about 1¼ kilo/2½ lb each), cut into quarters
Lemon wedges, to serve
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
Spice mix:
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon sweet dried paprika
½ cup olive oil, extra

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Wash and dry the chicken pieces.
Drain soaked chickpeas and place into a large saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–50 minutes until just tender. Drain again.
Reserve half the cooked chickpeas, about 1½ cups; for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Boil potato wedges for 10 minutes. Drain. Return to the hot saucepan and shake until dry.
Arrange par-boiled potatoes, cauliflower and pumpkin over base of large, oiled roasting pan. Toss to coat with the oil. Place chicken pieces on top.
Prepare the spice mix. Mix dry spices, salt and extra olive oil together in a small bowl. Brush over the chicken pieces, and drizzle the remaining spice mix over the vegetables.
Roast for 40 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken pieces and set aside, covered with foil.
Scatter tonight’s chickpeas over the roasted vegetables and gently toss to coat with the pan juices. Return pan to the oven for a further 5–10 minutes.
Reserve 4 roast chicken pieces for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Reserve about 1 cup of roasted cauliflower pieces for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Place remaining chicken and roasted vegetables on serving plates. Serve with lemon wedges on the side, scattered with coriander.

  • Planned-overs (reserved cooked chickpeas, chicken and cauliflower) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • 250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos) yields approximately 3 cups cooked chickpeas. You can replace the cooked chickpeas in this recipe with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed. You’ll need 1 can for the roast chicken, and 1 can for the pilaf. 
  • Note: 1 x 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, yields 1½ cups cooked chickpeas. 

Chicken pilaf

[Recipe 2] Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf with preserved lemon

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1¼ cups (250g) medium grain white rice, rinsed and drained
4 reserved roast chicken pieces, chopped (discard bones and skin) – about 2 cups chopped chicken
1 cup reserved roast cauliflower pieces, chopped
3 cups (100g) silverbeet (Swiss chard) leaves, green parts only, chopped
3½ cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
♦ 1½ cups reserved cooked chickpeas (or 1 x 400g/15 oz can, drained)
(65g/2¼ oz) slivered almonds, toasted
Half a preserved lemon (skin only), rinsed and finely chopped

Heat oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes, until soft.
Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add spices and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add rice, chicken, cauliflower pieces, silverbeet and stock. Season. Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook, uncovered, for a further 8–10 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Add a splash more water or stock if necessary. Stir occasionally.
Serve pilaf scattered with toasted slivered almonds and preserved lemon.

  • For a quick mid-week dinner, you can also make this pilaf with a chopped up store-bought roast chicken. Replace the roasted cauliflower with a couple of grated carrots; and toss in a 400g (15 oz) can of chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of lemons, you can preserve them easily – I love Greg Malouf’s recipe from Arabesque. Preserved lemons are also available from specialist food stores and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakerySimon Johnson, Essential Ingredient or Oasis bakery). You can buy Greg Malouf’s amazing preserved lemons with honey online too.

10 thoughts on “The bird is the word

  1. I can never be fussed with roasting a whole chicken, but love the idea of roasting individual pieces of chicken. The photo looks so delicious – we can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

  2. I love recipes that I have all the ingredients for!! Can’t wait to try the spiced chicken, and it was only last week that I convinced my kids to at least try chickpeas and whaddyaknow? They liked them!! This is definitely on next week’s menu 🙂

    • Ace! Thanks Stacey. Hope they like the chook. My kids love chickpeas too. Perfect finger food for toddlers – still remember my 5-year old when he was little, with his highchair tray full of chickpeas and his chubby fingers trying to catch them as they rolled around, giggling his head off.

  3. Thanks Saskia, always handy to know what to do with leftover roast chicken and this pilav sounds delicious! Nel.

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