Roast Chicken With Couscous, Dates and Buttered Almonds

, Halal
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Deglet Noors dates shine when they are cooked in chutneys, desserts or North African dishes like this whole roast chicken. The chicken is cooked with fluffy couscous that absorbs the sweetness of dates and the butteriness of toasted almonds. Supermarket Deglet Noors are often dark brown and hard, because they have been kept well past their natural point of ripeness; seek out soft, light-colored ones for the best flavor.

Ingredients

  • 4

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2

    tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • ½

    teaspoon ground ginger

  • ½

    teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Fine sea salt

  • 1

    large whole chicken, about 4 pounds

  • 2

    cups couscous (not instant)

  • 3

    tablespoons butter

  • ½

    cup sliced almonds

  • ½

    cup slivered dates

  • 1

    teaspoon sugar

  • 1

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2

    tablespoons orange blossom water (optional)

  • 2

    tablespoons honey

  • Chopped mint, parsley or cilantro, or a combination, for garnish

    Preparation

    1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large ovenproof dish or pot with a tight lid, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, the ginger, the pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken and rub it around in the mixture until evenly coated. Turn chicken breast side down and roast, uncovered, for 50 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine couscous, 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside for 5 to 15 minutes to soak.
    3. In a small skillet, melt the butter. Add almonds and cook, stirring constantly, just until toasted and golden; adjust heat so almonds and butter do not scorch. Turn off heat and stir in dates.
    4. Add almond-date mixture to couscous, along with any butter left in pan, and mix, fluffing the grains with a fork. Mix in 2 tablespoons olive oil, the sugar, the cinnamon and the orange blossom water (if using).
    5. Drizzle or paint honey over top of chicken (leave chicken breast-side down in pot). Add couscous mixture to the pot, arranging it around the chicken. Cover tightly with a lid or foil and return to the oven for 30 minutes more.
    6. Remove from the oven. When cool enough to handle, remove chicken and carve into serving pieces. Stir and fluff couscous, scraping up any chicken skin stuck to bottom of pan, and place chicken pieces back on top of couscous. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and serve immediately.
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