What’s cooking today: Roast chicken with a walnut and date stuffing

What’s cooking today: Roast chicken with a walnut and date stuffing
Tony Jackman’s roast chicken with a walnut and date stuffing. It’s garnished, only for decoration, with fresh wilde-als. Wilde-als can be used for cooking, sparingly, but its uses are mostly medicinal. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

A stuffing of walnuts and dates with fynbos herbs makes this fresh way with a roast chicken a class act worth sharing with friends at the dinner table.

This is another variation on walnuts and dates after my recent recipes for a walnut and date tart and a broccoli and walnut pesto for pasta. It also contains two fynbos herbs: kapokbos, and honeybush. See this Friday’s TGIFood newsletter for more about cooking with South African fynbos herbs, and another great fynbos herb recipe.

The roast chicken recipe requires making a stuffing, a fynbos butter, a glaze and a sauce, and of course roasting the chicken. There’s also a cheeky splash of nagmaalwyn. It’s a bit of a showpiece, especially if you have some fresh fynbos herbs to use as garnish. The recipe is for a large free range chicken, which requires longer cooking because its muscles have been exercised.


1 x 2 kg chicken, giblets and wing tips removed

Salt and white pepper for seasoning the bird

A few shakes of kapokbos and honeybush herbs for seasoning the cavity

For the stuffing:

2 Tbsp butter

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, diced

100 g raw broken walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan

250 g pitted dates, quite finely chopped

1 tsp ground Honeybush spice

1 tsp ground Snowbush spice (kapokbos)

50 g fine breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten


White pepper

For the fynbos butter:

3 Tbsp butter melted with 1 tsp honeybush herb and 1 tsp snowbush and a little salt

For the glaze:

2 Tbsp butter

70 ml Nagmaalwyn

1 Tbsp red prickly pear syrup

½ tsp honeybush spice

½ tsp kapokbos spice

½ tsp dried garlic powder

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

For the sauce:

50 ml nagmaalwyn

100 ml chicken stock

1 tsp honeybush spice

Salt and white pepper


Preheat the oven to 190℃.

The stuffing: Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the chopped red onion and celery, and sauté until softened and translucent. Add the chopped nuts, dates and spices and cook, stirring, for two or three minutes. Off the heat, stir in the breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Let it cool for five minutes, then fold in the beaten egg. Set aside.

The butter: Melt 3 Tbsp butter with 1 tsp each of kapokbos and honeybush herbs and a little salt. Set aside.

The glaze: Put the butter, nagmaalwyn (or other fortified wine), prickly pear syrup, spices, garlic powder, salt and white pepper in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer to cook gently until reduced by about half, to become a sticky glaze. Set aside.

Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and a little of each fynbos herb. Brush the outside of the bird with the fynbos butter and season with salt and white pepper.

Place it in an oiled heavy roasting dish and roast for an hour, uncovered.

Remove from the oven and brush half of the glaze over the chicken evenly.

Cover lightly with heavy foil and roast for another 20 minutes, then baste again, cover and roast for another 25 minutes.

Turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave the chicken to rest for 20 minutes.

Deglaze the pan on the heat with the nagmaalwyn and chicken stock, stirring in 1 tsp honeybush herb and salt and white pepper to taste. Serve the chicken with the sauce and vegetables of your choice on the side. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing. 


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