Georgian Stuffed Chicken
For the stuffing
4 tablespoons butter (plus fat from inside the chicken cavity)
2 cloves garlic
1 cup basmati rice
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
2 cups water
1/4 cup chopped parsley
for the chicken
Two 5-pound chickens
2 tablespoons soft butter
Make the stuffing
- Melt butter along with any gobbets of fat from the chicken’s cavity in a wide saucepan (one that has a lid). Process or finely chop the onion and garlic, and add to the pan with the butter, frying over a medium heat until the onion softens and begins to color.
- Discard bits of the rendered chicken, add the rice and chopped cherries, and give everything a good stir so that the rice becomes slicked with the fat. Add the water and a sprinkling of salt and bring to the boil, then clamp on the lid and cook at the lowest heat possible for 15 minutes. While the rice is cooking, preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
- When the rice is ready, by which I mean all the water will be absorbed and the rice be more or less cooked, fork through the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Make the chickens
- Spoon the cherry-studded rice into the cavities of both chickens, and secure the openings with two or three cocktail sticks. The easiest way to do this is to pinch together the flaps of skin from each side of the cavity and make a stitch to hold them with a cocktail stick.
- Rub the secured chickens with the butter and roast in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The skin should be golden and crispy and the meat cooked through; test by piercing the bird between thigh and body and if juices run clear, the chicken’s ready. The reason why the chickens take longer than you would normally give them is twofold: in the first instance, the rice stuffing impedes the flow of hot air; in the second, having two birds in the oven tends to make each take longer to brown.
- Pull out the cocktail sticks and let the chickens rest before carving.