A festive dish, this whole roasted chicken stuffed with aromatic freekeh, is at the center of the table in Muzna Bishara’s family kitchen in the Arab town of Kafr Qara. Pair the dish’s deep flavors with a bright salad.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, cut into small cubes
- 1 carrot, cut into small cubes
- 2 young celery stalks, cut into cubes
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cups freekeh, rinsed and strained
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon baharat spice mix
- 2 cups boiling vegetable or chicken stock, or water
- Handful of pine nuts, toasted in oil until golden
- Handful of chopped parsley
- For the chicken
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ tablespoon baharat spice mix
- 1 plump chicken or 2 spring chickens
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and fry until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the freekeh, stir, and fry 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, baharat and 1 cup of boiling stock or water. Stir once, reduce to a low heat, cover and cook until the liquid is completely absorbed, about 5-10 minutes. Add the pine nuts and parsley, mix, taste and adjust seasoning to your taste.
- Fill and prepare the chicken: Preheat the oven to the highest temperature (425-475°F / 220-250°C). Mix the olive oil with the baharat and rub the chicken well. Season the inside of the chicken with salt and use a sharp knife to puncture a few holes in the sides of the chicken. Fill the chicken with the freekeh stuffing until it is completely full (reserve the remaining freekeh for later). Tie the legs with butcher string and place in a clay pot or a roasting pan.
- Roast the chicken in the oven until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325°F / 170°C. Spread the remaining freekeh around the chicken and pour in 1 cup of boiling stock or water. Cover well and return to the oven for 1½ hours. Serve hot.