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
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
- 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.
- Cut the squash into wedges – there’s no need to peel it.
- Peel the onions and cut them into eighths through the roots.
- 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.
- Arrange the tomatoes, cut-side up, amongst the other veg and pop the lemon halves in too.
- Drizzle with another tablespoon of oil and two tablespoons of the pomegranate molasses, rubbing it into the tomatoes and veg. Sprinkle with salt.
- Nestle the chicken in the tin, skin-side up. Rub this with another tablespoonful of pomegranate molasses.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Put the rest of the yogurt and herb sauce in bowls to pass around, and encourage guests to squeeze over the caramelised lemon halves.