We know it’s a big call, but this may be one of the most delicious roast chickens we’ve ever tried. Cooked at a high temperature, the rose harissa, honey and lemon marinade stuck to the chicken’s skin bakes together into a charred, fiery glaze while the meat inside stays juicy, making it taste even better than it looks (if you can believe it…).
Rose harissa is a fiery mix of chillies, spices, rose petals and rose oil, and while it’s perfect for tagines, braises and marinades, it’s a flavour bomb that can be deployed almost anywhere. Try a spoonful stirred into a bowl of pumpkin soup, as an addition to homemade hummus, part of a vibrant vegetable salad dressing, or serve it as a condiment to a medium-rare steak.
Combine the rose harissa, honey, extra virgin olive oil, lemon, salt and garlic in a bowl (heating it slightly if you need to in order to soften the honey). Slather the marinade generously over the halved chicken- inside and out- then place into a covered container or bowl and refrigerate for a few hours or, preferably, overnight.
Remove the chicken from fridge 40 minutes before cooking. Preheat your oven to 200C. Cover a baking tray with foil and a sheet of baking paper, transfer the chicken to the tray (skin side up) and pour over any remaining marinade from the container.
Roast for 25 minutes, then spoon any juices from the corner of the pan back over the chicken and return it to the oven for another 25 minutes (or until cooked). Rest for at least ten minutes before serving, spooning over the juices again.
To make the pilaf, cook the freekeh in lightly salted water until just al dente. Drain and set aside.
Pour 1.5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a saucepan and sauté the fennel over a low heat for a few minutes, then add the onions and cook gently until translucent. Increase the heat and add the rice, stirring until the grains are well coated with oil.
Add the stock and stir well. As soon as the stock comes to a simmer, cover the saucepan with its lid and reduce the heat. Cook for ten minutes before removing it from the heat. Leave it to sit for five minutes, then fluff the grains of rice with a fork and gently stir through the cooked freekeh. Lay a clean tea towel over the pot and cover with the lid for another ten minutes (this will absorb any additional moisture and keep the rice from becoming gluey.
Coarsely chop the mint and coriander leaves and stems (reserving a few leaves for decoration), and combine with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a food processor, and blitz until the herbs are finely chopped.
Once the rice has cooled slightly, stir through the herb and oil mix and the smashed pistachios, and season with salt and pepper.
Combine the yoghurt and sumac, and serve with the chicken and the rice, topped with fennel fronds and reserved herb leaves.