Roast chicken with pomegranate and squash, yogurt and herbs recipe

Xanthe Clay
A feast of colour and flavour, made for sharing  - No Unauthorized Use

This dish is perfect for sharing, and you can use whatever vegetables you like. I often eat it as it is, but some fat maftoul (giant couscous) would go very well with it. 

Prep time: 35 minutes, plus resting time | Cooking time: 1 hour 5 minutes 

SERVES 

Four 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 chicken, weighing about 1.5kg
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 700g butternut squash
  • 500g small red onions
  • 120ml olive oil, plus 3 tbsp for cooking
  • 500g small tomatoes, halved
  • 2 small lemons, halved
  • 5 tbsp pomegranate molasses, or as needed
  • 30g fresh mint
  • 30g fresh coriander
  • 200ml plain yogurt (goat’s, sheep’s or Greek)
  • Seeds from 1 small pomegranate
  • 50g toasted hazelnuts, chopped

METHOD 

  1. Spatchcock the chicken by using strong kitchen scissors to cut down either side of the back bone (remove this and save for stock) and flatten the chicken out like a knock-kneed sunbather (your butcher can do this for you).
  2. Rub the chicken with the salt and cumin, and ideally leave it on a plate to come to room temperature for a couple of hours, covered with an upturned bowl.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
  4. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seedy guts, spreading them on a baking sheet. These can be cooked in the oven, as they are, for 15 or 20 minutes until dark golden, then eaten as a snack.
  5. Cut the squash into wedges – there’s no need to peel it.
  6. Peel the onions and cut them into eighths through the roots.
  7. Line a large roasting tin with a sheet of non-stick parchment. Add the squash and onions, plus two tablespoons of oil. Toss to coat.
  8. Arrange the tomatoes, cut-side up, amongst the other veg and pop the lemon halves in too.
  9. Drizzle with another tablespoon of oil and two tablespoons of the pomegranate molasses, rubbing it into the tomatoes and veg. Sprinkle with salt.
  10. Nestle the chicken in the tin, skin-side up. Rub this with another tablespoonful of pomegranate molasses.
  11. Roast for 40 minutes, until the chicken is barely done (it will continue to cook as it sits) then lift the chicken on to a warm dish and allow to rest for 20 minutes. If the vegetables need to brown up a bit more, put them back in the hot oven. If not, turn the oven off and leave the veg to keep warm with the door ajar.
  12. Strip the leaves of mint and coriander from the stalks and chop them roughly. Mix with the remaining oil, adding a bit extra if necessary to make a spooning consistency, add the last two tablespoonfuls of pomegranate molasses and plenty of salt and pepper. Taste and add more molasses if you like.
  13. Serve the chicken with the vegetables and juices piled around, and some of the yogurt and herbs spooned over, and the pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts tumbled on top. I might even trickle a little more pomegranate molasses over.
  14. Put the rest of the yogurt and herb sauce in bowls to pass around, and encourage guests to squeeze over the caramelised lemon halves.