Preheat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Unwrap the chicken and remove the giblets (see our tip for how to make the most of them). Pop the chicken in a roasting tin and set it aside for 30 mins-1 hr to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Pop the stones out of the dates, then roughly chop them and add them to a food processor or blender (see our tip if you haven’t got a processor handy). Finely grate the orange zest into the processor and squeeze in the juice. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and add it to the processor.
Pick the thyme leaves off their stalks and add to the processor. Add 1 tsp ground cumin, a pinch of mixed spice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour in 1 tbsp olive oil and blend till smooth.
Spread the date, orange and thyme glaze all over the chicken and rub it in to coat. Loosely cover the chicken with foil, scrunching it to the sides of the tin to seal. Slide into the oven to roast for 1 hr 15 mins, then remove the foil and roast for 20 mins more, till the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. To check, pierce the thickest part of a thigh with a skewer or knife. If the juices run clear with no trace of pink, the chicken is ready. If not, roast for another 10-15 mins and check again.
Lift the chicken onto a plate or board, loosely cover with foil and rest for 20-30 mins before carving. Crumble over the feta to serve.
No Processor? No Problem
Pop the stones out of the dates, then finely chop them. Finely chop the thyme leaves and crush the garlic. Mix together with the orange zest and juice, the spices, oil and seasoning. This glaze will be a little more rustic, but no less packed with flavour.
Something on the side?
If you’re searching for sides to go with your roast bird, try serving it with a warm bowl of nutty bulgar wheat, a tangy tangle of quick-pickled veg and a fresh, crunchy green salad.
A giblet stock is easy to make – just pop the giblets in a large pan with a sliced onion, chopped carrot, celery, a bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme and parsley. Add 2 ltrs water. Cover, bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 hrs. Strain into a sealable container and store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. This stock is perfect for adding to soups, risottos and gravies.