Since I didn’t cook Thanksgiving dinner this year, I miss the leftovers that come with it–mainly stuffing–so I decided to make a chicken, and stuff it. I always vary my stuffing, and this time, I’m using my neighbor Beppi’s recipe as the basis of my stuffing. Beppi, you may recall, puts sausage and mortadella in his stuffing–which is wonderful. Today, however, I eliminated the sausage and only used aromatics, bread and mortadella.
The stuffing begins with whole wheat (not multigrain) bread cut into cubes. I like whole wheat because it’s denser and nuttier than white. The bread gets soaked in chicken broth, then processed in the food processor to form a mush. The mortadella also gets processed to a fine puree–almost a mousse. Shallots and celery get sauteed and processed as well, along with a handful of chopped parsley, and a a dusting of nutmeg. A cup of seasoned breadcrumbs are added to the mixture.
You may or may not recall my Deconstructed Roast Chicken. This is probably my favorite way to roast a chicken, for several reasons. First and foremost, it allows you to remove the breast from the oven as soon as it’s cooked, while allowing the thighs, legs and wings to continue roasting to crispy, juicy perfection (much crispier than if they had stayed attached to the chicken).
The next reason I love this method is that it involves limited carving after it’s cooked–just remove the breast from the bones and serve all the parts on one plate. This means that the parts can all be eaten right out of the oven without allowing the bird time to rest, and without allowing any heat to escape while you spend 10 minutes carving the entire bird.
Normally, I would bake my stuffing outside the bird, in a casserole. Tonight, however, I wanted to experiment and bake some in the bird, and some separately. I must say, they were both great–it all depends on whether you like your stuffing moist or crispy. It’s actually nice to have a bit of each on the plate.
Since I baked the breast stuffed, the breast took longer than usual to cook, which meant that it was ready at about the same time as the other parts–a huge bonus–all the parts were able to be eaten piping hot out of the oven. The dark parts were irresistably crispy, while the breast and stuffing remained moist. All of this from a mere hour and twenty minutes total roasting time.
During the last half-hour of roasting, I added some blanched carrot slices to absorb some of those wonderful chicken drippings.
With this technique, any night of the week can taste like Thanksgiving.
Deconstructed Stuffed Chicken
a 2 1/2 lb chicken, legs, thighs and wings removed; breast and back left whole (if you’re shopping at a butcher, the butcher can do this for you).
7 slices of whole wheat bread
1 1/2 c chicken broth
2 tbls olive oil
1 rib celery
1/4 lb mortadella, sliced then diced into squares
2 tbls fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 c seasoned bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice bread into 3/4″ cubes and soak with 1 cup warm broth for about 10 minutes.
On low heat, saute the celery and shallots in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 5 minutes until tender and lightly caramelized.
Place in food processor. Add bread to processor and pulse until a coarse mush forms.
Set aside. Add mortadella, seasoned crumbs and parsley to the processor. Pulse until a coarse puree forms.
Combine the ingredients and add more broth if the mixture is too firm.
Rub chicken parts with salt, pepper, rosemary, and drizzle with the remainder of the oil. Stuff cavity of breast with stuffing and arrange parts on shallow baking sheet.
Place remaining stuffing in an oiled casserole dish, cover with foil, and set aside.
Roast chicken parts for approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, basting every 15 minutes or so. Internal temperature of the breast and stuffing should reach around 165 degrees. During the last half-hour, add some sliced, blanched carrots to the pan and allow to lightly caramelize in the chicken fat and drippings.
Also, during the last half-hour of roasting, add the casserole of stuffing to the oven. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes, uncovered for 15 minutes.