Roast chickens with quinoa stuffing

by Ginny Grant | Cuisine issue #143
Serves: 10-12A simple roast chicken is always popular. Here I've made a gluten-free stuffing with quinoa in what is really a variation on a typical bread stuffing

I haven’t made proper gravy – instead the cooking liquid becomes a thin sauce which is reduced and thickened to the desired consistency. If you’d prefer to make a bread stuffing, use 3 cups of fresh breadcrumbs. Ensure you rinse the quinoa thoroughly to remove any of the naturally occurring bitter-tasting compounds.

For the stuffing
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed in warm water
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons currants
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 rashers streaky bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
6 sage leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

After rinsing the quinoa thoroughly in warm water, strain through a fine sieve. Place in a saucepan with the chicken stock, bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed. Spread the quinoa on a wide baking tray to cool.

Soak the currants in 2 tablespoons of boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan, add the onion and bacon, and sauté until the onions are soft. Set aside to cool before using.

Mix together the quinoa, currants, onion mixture and the remaining ingredients. Taste and season.

For the chickens
2 large free-range chickens, excess fat removed and cleaned
sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
12 shallots, peeled
5 fresh bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock, white wine or water

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the chicken cavities with salt and fill with the stuffing. There will be too much stuffing for the birds so wrap the rest in an oiled tinfoil parcel and bake alongside the chickens. Secure the chickens’ cavities with toothpicks or sew up then truss the birds with string. Rub the outsides with olive oil and squeeze the lemon juice over. Season generously with salt.

Place in a roasting dish breast-side down with the shallots, bay leaves and stock, wine or water. Roast for 45 minutes then turn the chickens over and roast for a further 45 minutes. The juices should run clear when a skewer is inserted in the thickest part of the thigh. Place the chickens on a platter with the shallots and extra stuffing. Discard the bay leaves and rest the meat in a warm place.

Skim any fat from the liquid in the roasting dish and simmer to reduce until it thickens slightly. Pour into a warmed jug for serving.

Wine - A Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend, Australian or local.

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