Preserved Lemon & Spiced Butter Chicken with Apricot & Almond Couscous Stuffing

Spice up the festive season with this delicious roast chicken flavoured with a spiced butter and lemon. If you don’t have preserved lemons swap for fresh lemon zest. Our Moroccan Medley Couscous is already packed with flavour, and we’ve added apricots and almonds for texture to make a tasty light stuffing. This also works well with turkey if you want to jazz up your Christmas dinner – just increase the butter quantities so that you have enough to cover the bird and, of course, adjust the cooking times accordingly.


Prepare the Ainsley couscous with 140ml of water (a little less than usual) and set aside.

In a small bowl mix together the butter, garlic, ground spices, preserved lemon and fresh lemon zest.

Carefully loosen the skin of the chicken breast and carefully push about a tablespoon of the butter right up under the skin. Rub the remaining butter over the chicken skin, squeeze over a little lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper inside and out. Put the chicken into a large roasting tray.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/Gas 6

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-6 minutes until softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before putting in a bowl with the prepared couscous, egg, herbs, preserved lemon, apricots and almonds. Mix together and then gently stuff some of the couscous into the neck end of the chicken under the skin. Pull the skin over to cover and secure with a toothpick if needed. Put the remaining couscous into the cavity of the chicken, ensuring you leave a gap at the top to allow for expansion or roll into balls to bake alongside the chicken for the final 20 minutes. Secure the chicken legs with kitchen string.

Cover the chicken loosely with foil and put it in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove the foil for the final 20 minutes (adding any stuffing balls to the tray). The chicken is cooked when the juices from the thigh run clear when pierced.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.

To make the gravy, skim off any oil from the surface of the cooking juices and place the roasting tin over a medium heat. Pour in the wine and boil until reduced by half, scraping the base of the tin with a wooden spoon to release all of the caramelised juice. Stir in the flour, then the chicken stock and boil once more until the gravy has reduced and is well flavoured. Stir in lemon juice and seasoning to taste. Remove from the heat and pour the gravy through a sieve to discard any solids.

Serve the carved chicken with your favourite roasted veg and the gravy.




  • For the Chcken
  • 1 x 1.9kg chicken, cleaned and patted dry
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ preserved lemon, rind only, finely chopped
  • ½ fresh lemon, zest and for squeezing
  • For the Stuffing
  • 1 packet of Ainsley Harriott Moroccan Medley Couscous
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, unpeeled and finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
  • 50g dried soft apricots, drained and finely chopped
  • 1 preserved lemon, rind only, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp blanched almonds (or pistachios), toasted and chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Gravy
  • 60ml dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 300-350 ml of chicken stock
  • ½ lemon, for squeezing