Serves: Makes 6 servings
- 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
- coarse salt
- handful of ice cubes
- 6 sprigs cilantro, included long stems
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, cut lengthwise into 1⁄8-inch-thick slivers
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1⁄8-inch-thick slices
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped preserved lemon
- 1 tablespoon peeled, finely slivered fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons Moroccan spice blend
- Pinch of saffron threads (about 15 strands)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1⁄2 cup water
- Place the chicken in a colander in the sink and rinse well, inside and out, with cold water. half fill a large bowl (large enough to accommodate the chicken) with water and dissolve 1⁄2 cup of salt in the water. Add the ice cubes and the chicken, and then add more water if needed to cover the chicken. refrigerate for 1 hour.
- If necessary, rearrange the oven racks to accommodate the large size of the pan. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large bowl, combine the cilantro, garlic, onion, carrot, preserved lemon, ginger, 1 teaspoon of the spice blend, the saffron, and 1 teaspoon of coarse salt. Stir to mix. Spoon out and reserve about 1 cup of the mixture.
- Lift the chicken from the water, turning the bird to make sure all the water drains from its cavity. Dry the chicken inside and out with paper towels. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a work surface.
- Stuff the cinnamon stick and all but about 1⁄2 cup of the nonreserved onion mixture into the body cavity. Skewer the opening closed with a metal poultry-trussing skewer. Cross the tips of the drumsticks and tie them together with cooking string or silicone ties. With the neck opening facing you, carefully work your fingers between the breast skin and flesh to make a pocket under the skin. Gently shove the reserved 1 cup onion mixture under the breast skin, spreading it as flat as possible. Be careful not to stretch the skin taunt, or it will split during braising.
- Spoon the reserved 1⁄2 cup onion mixture into the neck cavity, pull over the skin flap, and secure with a metal poultry-trussing skewer. rub the skin on the breasts and legs with the remaining 1 teaspoon of the spice blend.
- Select a 7- or 8-quart cocotte or other large, heavy pan (such as a Dutch oven). An oval pan is ideal for a whole chicken, but not essential. Add the water and place the chicken, breast side up, in the pot. Cover with the lid and place in the lower half of preheated oven. roast for 11⁄2 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh (without touching the bone) registers 170°F. remove from the oven and let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven.
- Using 2 wide spatulas, transfer the chicken to a heatproof platter. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the turned-off oven. Pour the juices in the pot into a fat separator and let stand for about 10 minutes, or until the fat rises to the surface. Carefully pour off the juices into a medium skillet or sauté pan, and then discard the fat in the bottom of the fat separator. or, let the juices stand in the bowl until the fat rises to the surface, skim off and discard the fat with a spoon, and pour the defatted juices into a skillet or sauté pan.
- remove the chicken from the oven. Pull out the trussing skewers and remove the string or silicone ties. Spoon out the onion mixture from both cavities (the onions won't be as tender as the onions under the skin) and add to the juices in the skillet. Add to the skillet any other stuffing than may have fallen from the cavities onto the platter, too. heat the onions in the juices over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are limp and the juices are reduced. Keep warm over very low heat.
- Use a carving knife to cut off the full leg at the thigh joint. Find the joint between the thigh and drumstick with the tip of the knife and divide the leg into 2 pieces. Arrange the pieces on the warmed platter. remove each half breast in one large piece from the chicken, and transfer them to a cutting board. Carve each half breast crosswise into 1⁄2–inch-thick slices and arrange on the platter. Spoon the wilted onions and hot juices on top of the chicken. Serve at once.