Tasty Saffron Roast Chicken with Crispy Onions

Serves 4-6


  • 6 kg/3 ½ lb. oven-ready chicken. preferably free range
  • 75 g/3 oz./6 tbsp. butter. softened
  • 1 tsp lightly toasted saffron strands
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 450 g/1 lb./2 ½ cups peeled and thickly sliced onions
  • 8-12 garlic cloves. peeled
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g/2 oz./ 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 50 g/2 oz./ 1/3 cup sultanas/golden raisins
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig, to garnish

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Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Using your fingertips. gently loosen the skin from the chicken breast by sliding your hand between the skin and flesh. Cream together 50 g/2 oz./4 tbsp. of the butter with the saffron strands. the lemon zest and half the parsley until smooth. Push the butter under the skin. Spread over the breast and the top of the thighs with your fingers. Pull the neck skin to tighten the skin over the breast and tuck under the bird. then secure with a skewer or cocktail stick/toothpick.

Heat the olive oil and the remaining butter in a large heavy-based frying pan and cook the onions and garlic cloves for 5 minutes. or until the onions are soft. Stir in the cumin seeds. cinnamon. pine nuts and sultanas/golden raisins and cook for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and place in a roasting tin/pan.

Place the chicken. breast-side down. on the base of the onions and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Turn the chicken breast-side up and stir the onions. Continue roasting until the chicken is a deep golden yellow and the onions are crisp.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes. then sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Garnish with a parsley sprig and serve immediately with the onions and garlic.