Spice has long been on the menu in Scotland, whether from trade, conquest or immigration the peoples of this land have had a taste for the exotic and aromatic. A look at the menu of Mary, Queen of Scots in the great kitchens of Stirling Castle in the 1500s will reveal a fondness of the Scottish monarch for the likes of ginger and pepper. Spices returned from the days of the British Raj in the Indian subcontinent and the love of spice was further enhanced by immigration of many Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis in the years following World War 2. In fact many a Glaswegian will claim their city to be the curry capital of these islands.
This recipe very much celebrates the ancient Scottish tradition of cooking with the seasons, a way of life in the South Asia also and is perfect as autumn moves into winter, combining with the warming spices of that region for warmth in the cold Scottish months. One pot cooking is another Scottish custom, traditionally would have been over and open fire and for me it is the perfect way to showcase roast chicken by keeping all the cooking juices within the bird and the sauce and also maintain all the aromatic spices within the dish. I cooked it with St Brides free range chicken hence the relatively short cooking times. A perfect fusion of Scottish produce with spice.
Aromatic one pot chicken
1 large butternut squash chopped into 2cm chunks
1 small bunch rainbow sliced into 1cm strips across the stalk
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
1tbsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic crushed
2 dried red chillies rehydrated and pounded to a paste (new addition)
1/3 tsp turmeric (new addition)
Knob softened butter
1 tbsp oil
1. Set the over to 180C. Toast the coriander seed and grind with the cinnamon stick to a fine powder.
2. Mix the spice mix with yogurt, ginger and garlic.
3. Rub to the butter on the chicken followed by the spiced yoghurt and place under the skin covering as much of the breast as possible. 4. Rub the rest of the yoghurt mix with a little oil on top of the skin including the legs and wings giving a good massage. Leave to marinate as long as possible but for at least 30 minutes.
5. In a heavy bottomed casserole dish heat the oil and then cook the garlic with the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, star anise and red chilli.
6. When they start to give up their aroma reduce the heat right down, place the chicken in the dish breast facing up then place the squash and half the chard around it. Pour over the water, it should half cover the bird and add the red chilli paste on top.
7. Cover and bring the water to a gentle simmer on the stove and then place in the oven for 40 minutes. After this time make sure none of the vegetables are drying out by pushing into the slightly oily juices.
8. Baste the chicken lightly with these juices and then place back in the oven, uncovered, for 25-35 minutes until tender and golden brown.
9. Check that the chicken is cooked and remove from the dish, cover with foil and leave to rest, breast down to let the flavours soak back in. Remove half to two thirds of the vegetables and keep warm with a little of the liquor.
10. Add the remaining chard and cook over a high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly and deglazing the side of the dish. Liquidise the vegetables into a sauce.
11. When ready carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables you saved and the sauce poured over with rice or naan.
Picture credit to Sumayya Usmani