how fitting that my election night post was about roasted chicken, and here we come back to roasted chicken for today.
besides my political dreams, as an adolescent i also thought i was going to be a famous artist. i'd skip classes for days on end to be in the art class studio all afternoon. i was passionate about van gogh, cezanne, and kandinsky. i loved hopper. i was sure i was going to be the next contemporary brice marden or julian schnabel.
then my tortured adolescence of drawing and painting came to an end, but i still loved visuals - typography, design, illustration. and so when i ended up working at a bookstore, i was always a sucker for the cover of a book. i bought man without qualities because when both volumes are put together, the spines are a image of his face. and no, i have never gotten past page 100, but i still love that cover.
another thing i learned working at the bookstore is that the holidays are prime cookbook buying time. who knew? but several years ago we joined that tradition and bought claudia roden's middle eastern book for someone. back then i was pretty ignorant and all i knew about middle eastern food was your standard kebabs, hummus, and tabouli. and i was definitely ignorant about what a great writer claudia roden is. she doesn't just give recipes, she's a storyteller - of food, history, and culture. honestly i really didn't know anything except that this book had a gorgeous cover! so gorgeous in fact that i had to buy a copy for ourselves the next year.
and after all that babbling, all i have to say is: make this chicken. you will love it.
roasted chicken stuffed with dried fruits: serves 4-6
adapted from claudia roden's new book of middle eastern food (excellent book, highly recommended, 2000, p. 225)
1 chicken, about 3 1/2 - 4 lbs (preferably organic, humane)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb dried prunes, soaked, pitted, and chopped
1/2 lb dried apricots, soaked pitted, and chopped
1/3 cup raisins, soaked
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (a specific type is not mentioned; we used granny smith)
salt + pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1. preheat oven to 325F. fry the chopped onion in 2 tb butter until soft and golden. add chopped fruits and raisins and sauté for a few minutes. season to taste with salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
2. stuff the chicken with some of this mixture, securing the opening with a toothpick. rub chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. put the remaining mixture in a roasting pan. place the chicken - breast side down - on top of the mixture. salt and pepper. (this roasting method of breast side down is unsual, but mr. mimi is convinced what gave the chicken such great flavor and moistness and wants to try it with other dishes.)
3. roast the chicken for about 1 1/2 hours total, turning the chicken over after 40 minutes. serve the chicken with the extra stuffing mixture, accompanied by rice.