Roast Chicken with Thyme, Walnut Stuffing and Dried Figs

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

– T. S. Eliot

In my last post I set about to see if you could guess my mystery dish. Thank you so much for all the responses. I had a great time reading how some Spanish people knew what it was but didn’t want to spoil the mystery, there were fun guesses, nearly guesses, and MaameJ got it right! What most of us agreed on was that the mystery dish looked pretty scary.

Unveiling the mystery, they were (drumroll please):.. sea barnacles.

Sea barnacles are a seafood that are related to crabs and lobsters, though they live in tidal waters, sticking themselves onto rocks. Gathering them is a very dangerous business as you can see in this article from BBC or this one from The Telegraph. They are also very expensive because of just how dangerous it is to get them.

With regards to the taste, I mentioned I’m not a big fan. It’s not because they taste awful, not at all. They are a delicacy in Spain. They taste like the sea, only that I think that they do not carry much taste. To eat them you sort of break them apart with your hands, which usually produces messy squirts of water all around the place. Then you eat the inside which just tastes like the sea.

A few weeks ago I made this roast chicken with thyme, walnut stuffing and dried figs. At that time, the weather was miserable and I was up for cooking sessions that lasted hours. Now that we are on our way into summer, I’m more into quick salads so that we can spend more time outdoors.

I have been posting recipes with thyme and don’t be surprised if you see more here, as I’m in the middle of a buying thyme craze and adding it to everything. This recipe had thyme scattered all over the chicken, all over the potatoes and also included in the stuffing.

Making Roast Chicken with Stuffing

The fact that I used butter instead of olive oil is very French indeed, but would have been very looked down upon by Spanish people. However, no Spanish friends were invited to this meal…

Preparing roast chicken

Ingredients for the chicken:

1 chicken, salt, black pepper, thyme, butter

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Add the salt, black pepper and thyme onto the chicken. Divide a few cubes of butter and place them onto the chicken.

Ingredients for the stuffing:

1 cup bread, 1/2 cup walnuts, thyme, 1 shallot, salt, black pepper, 1/3 cup milk

Grind the walnuts and thyme in a mortar. Cut the bread into pieces. Peel and cut the shallot. Add the walnuts, thyme, shallot, salt, black pepper and milk. Mix it all together. I also had the chicken liver so I added that too. Stuff it into the chicken. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the potatoes.

Ingredients for the potatoes and dried fig:

4 potatoes, 1/2 cup dried figs, 2 cloves garlic, salt, black pepper, butter

Wash and cut the potatoes into slices. Cut the dried figs into halves. Take the chicken out of the oven after the first 30 minutes. Arrange the potatoes, dried figs and garlic cloves around it. Sprinkle salt and black pepper. Cut some very tiny cubes of butter, and arrange them on some of the potato pieces.

Put it all back into the oven and bake for another 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Potatoes and dried figs

Roast chicken with thyme and walnut stuffing

Cutting Roast Chicken

Thank you for reading!

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  1. Sunny 2014-05-05 at 00:41

    OOO OK I totally learnt something! Not sure I’d want to try sea barnacles, because I kinda feel bad for how dangerous it is to collect them!

    The chicken looks delicious! I use both butter and olive oil when I cook. It really just depends on what it is! I’ve never really roasted a whole chicken. Doesn’t really help because none of us knows how to dissect it properly LOL

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 20:52

      Don’t worry, no need to try them!
      I use butter or olive oil depending on the dish too. Or usually if it’s asian cooking, I use a different oil with a milder taste – a tip I got from an Asian friend of my mum, she said olive oil tastes too strong for Asian cooking (and she’s a brilliant cook!).
      I don’t know how to dissect a chicken. Our butcher cleans all the insides for us. Then we just sort of cut it into quarters…

      1. Sunny 2014-05-05 at 20:59

        I have friends who complain about olive oil having a “taste,” but I don’t really taste it. I buy meat from the supermarket, so the insides are gone. I just know people who can cut off the legs, wings, and breasts so expertly that it feels like I’m messing it up when I try!

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 21:01

          I’m used to the “taste” too so I don’t notice it much either. Usually I do the cooking and Mr. H. does the dissecting… I have to admit I’ve never done the cutting up myself 🙁

  2. maamej 2014-05-05 at 00:59

    Yay, I was right. Actually it wasn’t that hard cos they look a lot like barnacles I’ve seen here in Australia – plus remembering the TV show. The chicken looks amazing, I might give it a try as it’s getting colder here now & I love thym, although not usually a fan of mixing fruit & meat.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 20:58

      Hi MaameJ. I used to not mix fruit and meat (in my parent’s it’s sort of considered a sin). But I started mixing fruit with savoury dishes when I started blogging and I really like it now 🙂 I used to live in Australia and I don’t remember seeing barnacles! xxx

  3. seanmunger 2014-05-05 at 01:29

    This sounds absolutely delightful. However, I am allergic to nuts. What would you suggest as a substitute for the walnuts?

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 20:57

      Oh dear, are you severely allergic? And to all types or some? (just curious!) Maybe it can be substituted with more figs 🙂

      1. seanmunger 2014-05-05 at 21:14

        Yes, severely allergic. I’ve sometimes substituted peanuts (which are not true nuts) for walnuts in recipes, but in this one I think it might skew the flavor too much. I’ve heard of chick peas being used as nut substitutes and I wonder if that might work here.

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 22:29

          Oh I’m sorry to hear that, so you have to be extra careful sometimes! I myself would just pretend walnuts were not needed, add more bread instead and some chopped garlic 🙂 Chickpeas might work though!

  4. alifemoment 2014-05-05 at 01:48

    Really nice recipe, the photo of chicken and potato is so clear, it looks delicious 🙂

  5. Dalo 2013 2014-05-05 at 04:17

    Wow, I was going to mention barnacles…but they looked so big (we get small ones in Seattle)…that is amazing that you can actually eat them. I really want to give them a try now.

    As for this post…love the photos (the last two are neat), and I bet this chicken must be good: thyme is great, but it is the figs and walnuts ~ those are two things I do not see much in recipes. I have found some dark walnut bread here in HK which is great. Wish you a good week.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 20:54

      I don’t know how small the barnacles in Seattle are compared to these, but we can suppose that I did a macro close up photo…
      This chicken was good, you probably would have liked it! 🙂

      1. Dalo 2013 2014-05-06 at 01:55

        The Seattle barnacles are really small…but there are probably bigger ones in deeper water.

        I bet the chicken was good. Mmmmm, now I will dream about the chicken tonight 🙂

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-08 at 23:43

          Hi Randy, it looks like my mum has commented down below in reply to your quote saying that these are the smaller Spanish barnacles! 🙂

  6. Amanda 2014-05-05 at 04:45

    OMG this chicken is beautiful. I love that you used butter. Figs and thyme with potatoes. ..Amazing. I love the black and white photos. Gorgeous. As for the barnacles, you just eat them as is without cooking them? Teach me!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 20:55

      Gracias Amanda. My mum made the barnacles. I think she just steamed them with touch of salt!

    2. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-08 at 23:38

      Hi again Amanda! So cute, my mum replied to you down the bottom of the comments saying that she put the barnacles in boiling water for 1 minute with salt 🙂

      1. Amanda 2014-05-09 at 00:03

        Aww. Thanks mum! Yum.

  7. Bunny Eats Design 2014-05-05 at 06:32

    Barnacles do not sound very appetizing to me!

    Your post reminded me of how much I love stuffing. Growing up in a Chinese family, we didn’t not have the classic roast chicken dinners at home, but my parents would buy a rotisserie chicken and we would eat it in the car by the lakeside. All I wanted was the stuffing! And the stuffing was nothing flash, not like your dried figs and walnut. Sounds so comforting.

    My oven is very temperamental so I have to spatchcock my chickens so they cook evenly. This means I have missed stuffing for almost 2 years! I should probably just make a separate dish of stuffing to address my stuffing needs 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 22:35

      Same here with regards to the stuffing. I think my mum and I really liked the stuffing when we bought rotisserie chicken.. even though she doesn’t make stuffing herself. Maybe she will now after reading this post, who knows! 🙂
      I don’t have a fantastic oven so I know what you mean. Yeah maybe you could put it in a separate dish with a piece of chicken skin of top for the chicken flavour to seep through. It sounds really gross haha sorry, but just trying to be creative!!!

  8. Pemberley Cup & Cakes by Rosa 2014-05-05 at 09:50

    Wow, Sofia, that chicken dish is absolutely indecent! “Good job”, she said while drooling over her laptop keyboard… 😉
    I’m not fan number one of these barnacles, but I do love oysters. Don’t ask me why…
    Un beso, guapa!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 22:37

      Why thank you Rosa 🙂 Hey I drool over your desserts…
      Regarding oysters, if you think about them, they also look quite scary, but maybe it’s just a case they they are much more well known in the world that we accept them better. I accept them way better than the poor barnacles! Besos!

  9. lovinghomemade 2014-05-05 at 10:32

    I’m very behind on my blog reading so missed your last post – I’m positive I wouldn’t have guessed your mystery dish as I had no idea you could (or more specifically would want to!) eat barnacles. Your chicken dish sounds a lot more like my type of thing and the figs are a great idea. I’m sure any Spanish guests would have loved it too, even with the butter instead of olive oil!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 22:39

      My chicken dish is way more my type of thing too 😉 You’re probably right, if I don;t openly declare that the chicken has butter, the Spanish guests would like it too 🙂 Wishing you a lovely week!

  10. Mabel Kwong 2014-05-05 at 12:01

    That chicken dish looks amazing. Haha, I too like putting butter in my cooking, be it on a sandwich or on a chicken like how you did. To my tastebuds, butter adds a little salty creamy zing to what I’m eating. Yes, too much butter is bad for us, but I”m sure we’re all decent enough to not eat it at every meal or with every dish 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 22:41

      You’re right, we don’t do it in every dish, but for certain dishes (or more special dishes) it goes so well. xx

  11. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2014-05-05 at 15:59

    I was right about the barnacles! I believe they are called “cayos” in Spain, correct? Because they do look like the corns you get on feet, and that’s what those corns are called In Mexico! LOL! The recipe you posted looks fabulous, I will have to make it. And the black and white photo with the spot of color was so chic!!!!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 22:45

      Hi Guillermina! They are called percebes in Spanish. Callos in Spain are beef tripe hahaha also a “weird” dish – actually those would also go well for a mystery dish post, don’t you think?
      Thanks the black and white photo with the green are the result of certain colour filter functions that I can play with in my camera 🙂

  12. Mademoiselle Gourmande 2014-05-05 at 18:39

    This looks delish! It does sound fairly easy and I love the figs in it, have never tried that… 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-05 at 22:46

      psst here’s a secret: the figs were a last minute idea to be thrown in too, and they went really well 🙂

  13. laurasmess 2014-05-06 at 02:44

    Oh my gosh. Totally approve the use of French butter in here (sorry Spanish friends!!!). This looks delicious Sofia! Ah, yum! xxx

  14. lapetitecasserole 2014-05-06 at 05:55

    Sophia this recipe is gorgeous! I love stuffed chicken, I’ve marked it, I want to try it!

  15. Karen 2014-05-06 at 15:42

    Your whole meal sounds wonderful, love that you roasted figs with your potatoes. They must have absorbed a lot of goodness from your delicious chicken.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-06 at 16:52

      Hi Karen, yeah, the figs were a last minute but very well made idea 😉 Wishing you a wonderful week! xx

  16. annascuisine 2014-05-06 at 22:55

    What a delicious meal! Great photos as well. The potatoes look so good as well as the chicken. 🙂

  17. Johnny / Kitschnflavours 2014-05-08 at 02:01

    No Spanish friends were invited…love it! Slathered in butter is the way to go. And I can understand why you’re using thyme right now. It’s flavour is so good with chicken. And I couldn’t help but notice large pots of it for only £1.50 in my local store. That I have to get as my little plants are in small pots, with slim pickings.

    Haven’t been in your blog for the past few days as I’ve been co-hosting F&F. Really liking the new look! I do prefer these Responsive themes, like the one I’m using.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-08 at 23:40

      Oh do so, fresh herbs make so much difference don’t they!
      What is F&F? Is there a website or something I can see. Yes I did see you changed theme and I really like it, your blog looks so elegant!!

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-08 at 23:49

          Oh yes!!! I attended a F&F once. I must go again soon to see you all 😉
          You’re welcome, you know I adore your blog!

  18. eleieleika 2014-05-08 at 08:54

    Reply for Amanda from Sofia’s mum. About barnicles, I bought them raw, and just put one minute into boiling water with salt. The ones in the photo are small sizes. The big ones always disappear quickly as many spaniards like them. Lol

  19. emmabarrett1508 2014-05-08 at 14:45

    This looks so delicious. Perfect for the rainy weather here today in the U.K. Love the T.S Eliot quote too.


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