This recipe will serve about four people. If cooking it for a larger group, I recommend doing two chooks in one tray and making the stuffing in another tray. Scoop and add some of the chicken juices to the stuffing tray as that’s when the magic happens. Alternatively, make the chicken first and then while it’s resting, bake the stuffing. If avoiding nuts, use seeds instead.
- 1.6kg free-range chicken
- Sea salt
- 1/2 lemon
- 7–8 fresh sage leaves
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
For the stuffing
- 1 teaspoon butter or ghee (coconut oil or olive oil can also be used)
- 6–7 rashers of bacon, diced
- 1 large leek, pale and light green part, diced finely
- 1 1/3 cup mixed nuts or seeds (macadamia, almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 anchovies (optional but amazing, not fishy at all)
- 10 fresh sage leaves
- Generous pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour or arrowroot (rice, potato or buckwheat flour could also be used)
- A few extra sage leaves, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 200 °C/395 °F.
- Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken with sea salt and stuff the lemon half and sage leaves inside. Tie the legs together (optional, will work just as well if they are not tied).
- Melt coconut oil and rub all over the chicken. Sift through paprika and turmeric over back and front of the chicken and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. These spices will add a lovely yellow/orange colour to the skin. Rub everything in and place the chook in a large baking tray, breast side up.
- Place the tray in the oven, middle shelf, not too close to the grill to prevent burning. Cook for 45 minutes and in the meantime start on the stuffing
- Heat a large frying pan with butter over medium heat. Add bacon and leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened and lightly golden.
- Place nuts, lemon zest, garlic, anchovies, sage and a little sea salt in a food processor. Process into fine crumbs, for about 20-30 seconds. Then, add the cooked leeks and bacon and process for 5-10 seconds. Add tapioca flour and process for a further 5-10 seconds, until well combined and the mixture starts coming off the sides. Set aside.
- After 45 minutes, take the chicken tray out of the oven. Bathe the chicken with some of the oily juices in the tray and then spread the stuffing mixture around the chicken (see pics). You might have a bit of chicken juice inside the cavity, I recommend to tiIt the chicken slightly to let some of it spill out into the tray to mix with the stuffing. It’s a wonderful thing. Place back in the oven for 30 minutes. Half way through, give the stuffing a little stir so it browns evenly.
- Let the chicken and the stuffing rest out of the oven, covered loosely with foil or a towel, for about 10 minutes before carving. You could also turn the chicken upside down so that the juices rush back to the chicken breast.
- Serve a few pieces of chicken with a side of stuffing on the side.
- Tip: if the chicken breast skin looks like it’s browning too quickly, cover it lovely with a piece of foil to protect it from burning. You can do the same to the legs.