Made with a free-range, corn-fed chicken or a capon, this dish is worthy of Christmas dinner, and is very quick and easy to do — once it’s in the oven you can sit down and relax with an aperitif. The sauce is wonderful. We thought chestnuts would be a nice addition to the fruits (especially as after indulging in several pre-dinner drinks I forgot to put the almonds in).
Credit: Marmiton.org — an excellent site if you know enough cooking French to be able to follow a recipe. The comments by people who have tried the recipes are particularly useful.
1 large cornfed chicken (about 2 kg)
400g of mixed long-grain and wild rice
1 stick celery
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of powdered spices (nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and pepper)
6 dried apricots
50g whole almonds
50g slivered almonds
Put the dried fruits (including the sultanas) to soak in cold water to cover. Preheat the oven to gas 6 (moderately hot).
Remove the rind of the lemon and half the orange and shred finely (or use a zester — an invaluable tool). Squeeze them both and reserve the juice.
In a bowl, mix together the finely chopped celery and onion, the orange and lemon zest, the powdered spices, and the bay leaf. Note: I don’t particularly like cloves, so I just put in two whole ones instead of crushing them with the rest of the spices.
Use this mixture to stuff the chicken, and truss it to stop the stuffing falling out. Put the chicken in a roasting tin large enough to take the fruit later, and season the outside with salt. Melt half the butter, and use this to baste the chicken. Put in the oven and roast for about 1 hour 45 minutes. Baste with butter a couple of times during the first 15 minutes. Then go away and have a drink or two.
About half an hour before the chicken is ready, bring 1 litre of water to the boil, add salt, and cook the rice till it has absorbed all the water and is tender (about 20 minutes).
Ten minutes before the chicken is done, drain the fruit and add to the roasting tin along with the reserved fruit juice. Once the chicken is done, leave to rest in the turned-off oven for a few minutes, covered with foil. Add the remaining butter to the rice and fluff up with a fork.
Serve the chicken surrounded by the fruits (and the whole almonds if you remember), scatter the rice with the flaked almonds, and serve the sauce in a gravy boat. Delicious — we drank a nice spicy Corbières with it.