Stuffed chicken or turkey was one of the most demanded meals at our house especially on New Year’s Eve. My parents always made their best to make this evening as festive and as special as possible. My mother loved to prepare a beautiful dinner table filled with delicious food to add next to the stuffed chicken. My late dad always liked to lit up all the lights in the house and keep them on until after midnight, he also loved to place a green vegetable in the middle of the dinner table. The green and the lights refer to abundance and hope. So we all sit around the table and before we start eating, both of my parents take their wedding bands off and place them in a glass of wine, then my dad takes the first sip, then the glass goes around and each one of us take a small sip out of the same glass, then the glass ends at my mother who also takes a sip making a toast that the new year will bring peace on us and on earth. That was our family tradition growing up, which was the most beautiful time that I still remember.
For all of you out there as you prepare to close the chapter of 2019, and welcome 2020, I say stay hopeful, peaceful and expect the best out of the coming year but yet be prepared for whatever this year will bring, and always remember to keep your faith stronger and believe that whatever happens, at the end things will always be alright! Happy New Year.
I love to stuff Cornish chicken, they are smaller and they just seem to be more practical and easy to handle. Freekeh is a plant-based grain and very popular in the Middle East, it’s green durum wheat that is roasted and rubbed which creates this nutty unique flavor once cooked.
With chicken stuffing recipes, whether it’s rice or freekeh I usually like to cook the stuffing first. And that’s how my mom used to do it, so I follow her instructions. So freekeh is cooked separately before stuffing it inside the chicken. I do like to soak the freekeh in water first for about 15-20 minutes before cooking. I start by sautéing the freekeh with some vegetable oil after rinsing it from the water it was soaked in. Sauté for one minute then cover with boiled water, once it starts boiling, turn the heat on low, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
As for the chicken I like to rinse the chicken with vinegar and some salt before cooking, I do not wash it with water to avoid any contamination of the bacteria that comes from the chicken. In a small bowl I combine all the spices: allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom powder, and salt, I start by rubbing the chicken with lemon juice, then olive oil, then with the spices mixtures, make sure to cover the chicken well with all the spices from the outside and the inside. The more spices there are the tastier and more flavor one can give to this dish. Then with a big spoon or with your hands (make sure that the freekeh has cooled off to avoid burning your hands) take a handful of the cooked freekeh and stuff it inside the chicken until it’s fully stuffed. Cornish chicken is small and will not take much, I’d say it will take about two handfuls of freekeh for each chicken, any leftover freekeh can be served on the side. You can close the bottom with a toothpaste.
Place the chicken after it’s stuffed on a baking pot, I do highly recommend the granite roaster which comes with a cover. You can also use the special baking bags, these two options are great with chicken baking. Bake on a 350 degrees oven for 1.5-2 hours until chicken is fully cooked, for a golden brownish chicken, uncover the pot and let it bake for another 10 minutes or turn the broiler for only a few minutes, depending on your broiler and keep it monitored.
This recipe makes 4 servings
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- 2 Cornish chicken
- 1 cup uncooked freekeh
- 1 cup of boiled water for cooking
- 2 cups of tap water for soaking
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 fresh lemon juice
- 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Soak freekeh in water for about 15-20.
- Rinse freekeh from water and sauté in vegetable oil for about 1 minute then cover with boiled water
- Turn the heat on low once it starts boiling, cover and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, clean chicken with vinegar and some salt.
- In a small bowl combine all the spices: allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom powder, black pepper, and salt.
- Rub the chicken with lemon juice, then olive oil, with the spice mixture, make sure to cover the chicken well with the spices from the outside and the inside.
- With a big spoon or with your hands, take a handful of the cooked freekeh and stuff it inside the chicken until each chicken is fully stuffed. You can close the bottom with a toothpick.
- Place the stuffed chicken in a granite roaster and cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours.
- Serve with a side of plain yogurt or salad.