José Pizarro’s recipe for anchovy-spiked roast chicken with Moorish chickpea and watercress salad

I was raised on my parents’ farm, so grew up in a world where free-range chicken came as a matter of course. My mum swore by keeping things simple and usually roasted the bird, but my day job means I now have a thing for elevating flavours. In today’s dish, the chicken is enveloped in a medley of anchovies, serrano ham and oregano, all of which enhance its succulence, while the various other herbs and spices infuse the meat, and make it more vital and intense; the chickpeas, sultanas and watercress, meanwhile, introduce a refreshing balance. This is rustic Spanish cooking mixed with contemporary creativity, and a delicious blend of tradition and innovation.

Anchovy-spiked roast chicken with Moorish chickpea and watercress salad

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 40 min
Serves 4-6

1 large chicken (about 1.8-2kg), ideally free-range
4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
30g serrano ham, or jamón
3 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves picked
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp smoked sweet pimentón
800g tinned chickpeas (ie 2 cans), drained and rinsed
1 tbsp sherry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
100g sultanas
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
, to finish
160g watercress (ie, 2 x standard 80g bags)

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Using your fingers, and working from the neck end down, loosen the skin from the chicken breast. Finely chop the anchovies, ham and oregano, put them in a bowl with the garlic, lemon zest and tablespoon of olive oil, and mix well. Spread the mix all over the chicken breast under the skin.

Put the chicken in a roasting tin, squeeze over the lemon juice, then pop the spent halves inside the cavity. Generously season the bird inside and out, then roast for an hour, or until the juices run clear (test by poking the tip of a sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh). Transfer the chicken to a warmed plate, cover with foil to keep it warm, then leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Toast the cumin seeds and pimentón in a dry pan. Set the tin of roasting juices over a low heat, add the toasted spices, chickpeas, vinegar, sultanas and extra-virgin olive oil, and heat gently, stirring; tip in any resting juices from the chicken plate, too.

Take the tin off the heat, then stir in the watercress. Carve the chicken, arrange on a platter and serve with the warm salad on the side.

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