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Chicken Stuffed with Olives and Tomatoes

by Rose Gray, Ruth Rogers from The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook

Give your roast chicken an Italian twist with this recipe from The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook, roasted with olives, tomatoes and lemon.


1 free-range organic chicken, weighing 2kg
2 lemons, halved
120g black Taggiasca or Niçoise olives, sold in brine
250g large beef tomatoes, cored and cut into 3cm pieces
freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
10 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped (keep some of the stalks)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved if large
sea salt


Remove the chicken from the fridge and bring it to room temperature. Pull out any excess fat from the inside and remove the giblets, if there are any. Wipe the inside of the bird and season the cavity generously. Squeeze in the juice from one of the lemon halves.

Wash the brine from the olives and stone them. Put most of the olives and half the tomato pieces into a bowl, season with pepper only, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice from 1 lemon, keeping back 1 tablespoonful. Add the parsley leaves and half the garlic. Mix well. Preheat the oven to 210°C.

Spoon most of the mixture into the cavity of the chicken. Push in the remaining lemon half and a few of the parsley stalks. Pour over the reserved tablespoon of lemon juice and rub it into the skin of the chicken. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Choose a medium roasting tin into which the chicken will fit quite snugly, and place the bird in the tin breast-side down. Scatter the remaining mixture, along with the rest of the olives, garlic, tomatoes and parsley stalks, around the chicken, and drizzle again with olive oil. Place in the oven to roast for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C. Turn the chicken over, baste the breast and stir the tomatoes and olives. Continue to roast for a further 40– 60 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. The best way of testing is to pull the leg gently away from the body – the leg joint should come away easily and you can see if the juices are clear, not bloody.

Rest the chicken for 10 minutes in the roasting tin; this allows the meat to relax before you start carving. Remove the chicken from the pan to a warm serving plate and spoon over the olives, tomatoes and juices from the pan.

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