It’s all about the schmaltz

There are some good how-to videos out there on how to truss a chicken – it’s a useful thing to learn, but I typically let my chicken head for the oven relatively liberated. I tuck the wing tips behind the back, and occasionally tie the legs together.

Roasted chicken and stuffing 2

Roasted Chicken with Panzanella Stuffing (PDF)
Recipe 223 of 365

The problem with stuffing a chicken is obvious: unless you’re cooking a giant old bird, the cavity doesn’t hold enough stuffing to feed as many people as the bird does. Plus, the chicken takes more time to roast that way, and the breast meat often dries out.

Here’s an answer: make the stuffing, roast it next to the bird, then drizzle the bird’s juices over the stuffing (like you might normally do with butter for turkey stuffing) and bake the chicken flavor into it while you rest and slice the chicken. With small, ripe cherry tomatoes and toasty cubes of whole grain bread, the stuffing tastes like a hot, toasty version of traditional Italian bread salad.

TIME: 30 minutes prep, plus 60 to 90 minutes roasting time (start about 2 hours before dinner)
MAKES: 4 to 6 servings

4 cups 1” bread cubes, from good crusty bread (I used dense whole grain bread)
Spray olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon dried Herbes de Provence
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 cups small cherry or grape tomatoes
1 4-pound chicken, rinsed and dried well

Arrange an oven’s racks to fit both a roasting pan and a baking dish, if possible, roasting pan on top, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees (or preheat two ovens, if you have them).

Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray with the olive oil spray, tossing the cubes as you spray to coat all sides evenly. Season with salt and pepper, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally to ensure even browning, or until nice and toasty on all sides. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, then add the onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and 2 teaspoons of the Herbes de Provence, and cook another 2 minutes, stirring. Increase heat to high, add white wine, and simmer 3 minutes. Remove the onion mixture from the heat, and stir in bread cubes, basil, and tomatoes, tossing until the bread cubes have absorbed all the liquid. Transfer the stuffing to a lightly oiled baking dish and set aside.

Panzanella stuffing (raw)

Rub the chicken with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Season it inside and out with salt and pepper, fold the wing tips behind the back, and place it breast-up on a rack in a roasting pan. Rub the remaining tablespoon Herbes de Provence into the breasts, legs, and thighs, and roast 30 minutes at 450 degrees.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees, slide the stuffing into the oven on the rack beneath the roasting pan, and roast the chicken an additional 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken, covering loosely with foil if the skin becomes too brown. (When cooked, the breast meat should measure 165 degrees in the thickest part with an instant-read thermometer, juices from the leg should run clear, and the legs should wiggle freely.)

When the chicken is done, remove both the chicken and the stuffing from the oven, leaving the oven on. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, and let rest 10 minutes before carving. Drizzle the pan juices evenly over the stuffing, and return the stuffing to the oven for 15 minutes more. Serve chicken with the stuffing.

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