Chicken stuffed under the skin with flavoured butter

Chicken stuffed under the skin with flavoured butter

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper


Quantity Ingredient
2 x 1.4kg free-range chickens
flavoured butter of your choice, (see Variations)
2 limes, quartered
8 sprigs thyme
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 long red chillies, split and seeded
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
rice and salad, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Wipe the cavities of the chickens with paper towel, and pat dry all over. Working from the neck end, insert your fingers underneath the skin that covers the breast meat. Ease it gently away from the flesh to create a pocket, being careful not to tear it. Work back as far as you dare. Push knobs of flavoured butter deep into the pocket, then smooth it evenly over the surface with your fingers. Gently pull the breast skin forward again, to cover the meat.
  2. Divide the limes, thyme, garlic and chillies into two portions, and stuff into the cavity of each bird. Sprinkle in a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  3. Tie the chicken legs to the parson’s nose as firmly as you can, then sit the birds side by side on a rack set inside a large roasting pan. Rub the skin with the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160ºC and roast for a further 30 minutes, turning the chickens around and basting them every 15 minutes or so to ensure the skin colours evenly. After 50 minutes, turn off the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and pierce the thighs with a skewer to check that the juices run clear. If not, return to the oven, turn the heat up to 180ºC and cook for 10 minutes more. Serve with your favourite accompaniments.

Barberry butter

  • Soak 1/2 cup dried barberries (stems removed) in cold water for 2 minutes; drain and pat dry. Heat a knob of unsalted butter in a small frying pan over a low heat. Crush 1 clove garlic with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Fry the barberries and garlic paste for 4–5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the finely grated zest of 1/2 lime and 1 tablespoon icing sugar. Allow to cool, then add 200 g unsalted butter, 1/3 cup roughly chopped chervil or tarragon leaves and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Beat vigorously. Spoon onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log. Roll neatly, twist the ends, tie securely and chill or freeze until needed.

Preserved lemon butter

  • Combine 175 g softened unsalted butter, the finely chopped rind only of 1 preserved lemon, 2 finely chopped shallots, 1/2 clove finely chopped garlic, 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves and 1/2 teaspoon ground sumac. Beat vigorously. Roll into a log as above and chill or freeze until needed.
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