Bulgur Pilaf with Moroccan Roast Chicken

For the Chicken:

  • One 4-pound chicken (rinsed and patted dry)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3/4 cup pitted prunes (quartered, tightly packed)
  • 6 slices thinlemon (pitted, plus more for garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter (melted (optional))

For the Bulgur Pilaf:

  • pinch Generousof saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup finely diced shallots or onion
  • 1 1/2 cups #3 coarse bulgur
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  1. Set a rack in the center and preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Season the chicken well, inside and out, with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, blend the oil with the ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cardamom, and cayenne.
  4. Starting at the neck opening, gently press your hand between the skin and the flesh all over the chicken to loosen the skin. Rub half of the spice oil into the flesh under the skin.
  5. Toss the prunes and lemon slices in the remaining spice oil. Stuff these into the cavity of the chicken. Secure the opening with skewers or toothpicks. For a very crisp skin, brush the chicken with the melted butter.
  6. Set the chicken on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted where the thigh meets the leg registers 165°F, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
  7. After the chicken has been roasting for about 35 minutes, begin preparing the bulgur pilaf; in a small bowl, stir the saffron into 1 tablespoon of warm water. Set aside.
  8. Melt the butter in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over medium-high heat until they soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bulgur and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the bulgur emits a faint toasted aroma, about 3 minutes. Add 3 1/4 cups of water plus the saffron and its soaking water. Bring to a boil. Stir in the salt. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the bulgur is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. If all of the water has been absorbed and the bulgur is not done, stir in 1/4 cup hot water and cook over a very low heat for a few more minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the bulgur steam for 10 minutes or until the chicken is done. To serve: Remove the stuffing from the chicken. Discard the lemon slices. Stir the prunes, almonds, and mint into the bulgur. Add salt to taste. If you wish, skim the fat from the chicken pan juices and stir them in.
  9. Carve the chicken and serve each portion with a large spoonful of the bulgur pilaf.

From “Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way” by Lorna Sass