This flavorful recipe from goodfood serves 4–6 and is delicious even if you skip the brine when you are short on time.
- 3 tbsp fine salt
- 2½–3 lb whole roasting chicken
- 1½ cups basmati rice
- 10½ tbsp salted butter (about 1¼ sticks)
- 1 large white onion, sliced into half moons
- 5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- Salt flakes, as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- ½ lemon
- Combine the salt with 5–6 cups of cold water until the salt dissolves, and submerge the chicken in it. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, then remove the bird, drain, and dry with paper towel.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the rice in a deep-sided enamel baking tray or ovenproof ceramic dish about 8 x 12 inches.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken, breast-side down, and sear for about 5 minutes to brown, then rotate the bird to sear it on all sides.
- Add the onion, garlic, and cumin to the pan and cook until softened and lightly colored, about 6 minutes. Don't allow the pan to get too hot—you don't want to burn the butter.
- Once the onion and garlic are a little golden, position the bird in the rice, breast-side up. Season the onion generously with salt and pepper, then spread out on top of the rice, spooning any remaining butter over the chicken. Season the bird well with pepper.
- Return the pan to the heat and add the stock. Bring to a simmer and swirl to deglaze, then pour over the rice and add the cherry tomatoes. Push two bay leaves into the rice and stuff the third into the cavity of the chicken. Squeeze the lemon's juice into the rice, then add the squeezed lemon to the cavity. Cover with baking paper, then foil, and roast for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 25 minutes, until golden.
- Rest the chicken for 5–10 minutes before carving it in the dish so that the rice catches all the chicken juices. Serve with a leafy salad and either yogurt flavored with mint and garlic or your favorite spicy sauce.