1.8kg/4lb whole chicken or 1.25kg/2lb 12oz chicken thighs or legs, bone in and skin on
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, cut cross ways into thick slices and seeds removed
2 shallots, halved lengthways
4–6 Medjool dates, stones removed
4 thyme or oregano sprigs, plus extra to garnish
2 tsp ground urfa chilli or 1 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sea salt flakes, to serve
For the garlic lettuce
2 lemons, 1 finely chopped with seeds removed and 1 zested and juiced
60g/2¼oz raw pistachios, almonds or walnuts, finely chopped and lightly toasted
1 garlic clove, finely grated
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4–6 heads of Little Gem or 1 large head of Cos, quartered
1 handful fresh parsley, leaves and stems roughly chopped
1 handful fresh chives, snipped
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh dill
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium–high heat. Place the chicken in the pot, breast-side up. Using tongs, press lightly to make sure the skin comes into even contact with the bottom of the pot. This will brown the legs and render any excess fat. If using thighs or legs, sear the pieces skin-side down. Cook, without moving the chicken at all, for 5–8 minutes, or until browned.
Add the lemon slices and shallot to the pot, moving the chicken around slightly so that the lemon and shallot come into contact with the bottom of the pot. Let everything sizzle in the fat for about 2 minutes, or until lightly caramelised.
Add the dates, thyme and 250ml/9fl oz water. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with the chilli and place the lid on. Transfer to the oven and roast for 20–25 minutes, until the dates are plump and the chicken is almost cooked through (the chicken will look slightly pale as it has been covered by the lid).
Remove the lid and drizzle the chicken with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Return to the oven and continue to cook for 20–30 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half and the top of the chicken is golden brown. Check that the chicken is cooked through by seeing that the juices run clear with no trace of pink when the thickest part of the leg, between the drumstick and the thigh, is pierced with a skewer. Leave the chicken to rest in the pot for 10 minutes, then transfer to a board and carve.
Meanwhile, to make the garlic lettuce, place the chopped lemon, lemon zest, pistachios, garlic and olive oil in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Scatter the lettuce on a large serving platter or shallow bowl. Drizzle with the lemon juice and some olive oil until all the lettuce heads are lightly covered. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the pistachio mixture over, followed by the herbs. Add a sprinkling of salt flakes just before serving.
Place the chicken on warmed plates with the shallot, lemon slices and dates. Sprinkle over some thyme and salt flakes. Serve with the garlic lettuce on the side.
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