Against the grain Spelt is the star of the stuffing-based show in this recipe by Roger Saul...
Sharpham Park’s Roger Saul is a champion of spelt. As well as farming the stuff, he’s now written a recipe book all about it. “Try to buy free-range or organic chicken, if you can,” he says, “so there are no pesticides on the grain they eat. Pearled spelt is so versatile, and makes a fabulous base for stuffing the bird, taking up all the delicious flavours from the meat.”
ROAST CHICKEN with PEARLED SPELT STUFFING (SERVES 4)
1 whole chicken (1.5-2kg) 50g unsalted butter assorted vegetables, cut into chunks (onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, swede and cauliflower all work well) 3 tbsp olive oil
PHOTOS BY L AR A HOLMES
For the stuffing: 150g unsalted butter, softened 200g onions, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 3 large thyme sprigs, leaves picked 300g pearled spelt, pre-cooked to packet instructions 100g chestnuts, grated small handful chopped parsley 2 eggs, lightly beaten 50g fresh spelt breadcrumbs
– Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas mark 6. – Start with the stuffing. Melt the butter in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onions and garlic, and fry for 5 minutes, until transparent. Add the thyme and cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the cooked spelt and the grated chestnuts. Take the pan off the heat and add the chopped parsley. Fold in the egg and the breadcrumbs and season generously. – Put all the stuffing into the cavity of the chicken and truss the legs together, using kitchen string to seal it in. – Put thin strips of butter underneath the chicken skin, especially around the breast meat, which tends to dry out, and then season the whole bird. – Put the chicken in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes until the skin is starting to brown, then turn the oven down to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and roast for a further 15 minutes. – Toss the vegetables in the oil and season. Scatter them in the roasting tin, around and under the chicken, then roast for a further 1-1 ¼ hours until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced. – Lift the chicken out of the tray and onto a serving plate, cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place. Turn the oven down to 100C/200F/gas mark 1 to keep the vegetables warm until you’re ready to carve and serve the chicken. ✱ sharphampark.com