Roast chicken is one of those meals that feels like a warm hug - a comfort food that reels me back to when my kids were young and the whole family gathered 'round the table for a Sunday meal. So when my son and daughter announced they'd be home for the weekend, I immediately thought of roasting a chicken, just like old times. But my son, who's pretty facile himself around the kitchen, suggested I debone the entire chicken, then stuff it and roast it. "Jacques Pepin's got a video that shows you how," he said.
"Well, why not," I said, so I clicked on Youtube and found the instructions. Jacques says it should take only one minute to debone the bird, and it's mostly done with your fingers, not a knife. Well, take that with a grain of salt. He's a seasoned professional who's probably done it hundreds of times. It took me closer to 20 minutes and at least several viewings of the video before I could free all the bones from this 6 lb. chicken, without ripping any of the skin:
Check out the Pepin video below. It's called a galantine, or ballotine, and you can do it too if you're just patient and follow Jacque's instructions.
You start out by cutting into the wings and slicing the bird down the back. It gets a lot more complicated, but it's definitely doable, even for a first-timer, like me. The legs then become hollow, providing more space for stuffing. The only bones remaining are the tips of the legs. And don't throw out those bones. Use them to make a chicken stock.
See that small white plate in the back?
Those are the wings that become little "lollipops" for roasting or frying.
This is what the interior looks like before stuffing. "Gross," according to my daughter, and I'd have to agree. Not too appetizing. But just wait.
I spread the stuffing into the legs and throughout the interior. The stuffing was made with sturdy Italian bread, sausage, chestnuts and white raisins, bound together with an egg and some chicken broth.
You bring the two sides together and it almost looks like it just came out of the supermarket wrapper.
You truss it all together with some twine.
Season it and put it in a roasting pan (a freebie from a yard sale in upstate New York last month), strewing some onions here and there. Roast it at 350 degrees for two hours.
The beauty is not just in the flavor, but the ease of slicing. It would make a great meal for family or a special occasion.
The deboned, stuffed chicken (and two wing lollipops) easily serves six people, assuming you've got some side dishes. If you're not crazy about turkey, this could be a great substitute for the traditional Thanksgiving bird. If you want instructions on how to roast a chicken the old fashioned and easy way, without boning it, click here to see how I do it.
By the way, the acorn squash in the background, coated with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, would make a nice addition to your Thanksgiving table. Stay tuned to Ciao Chow Linda for the recipe in the next post.
Printable Recipe Here
4 or 5 thick slices of sturdy Italian bread, crusts removed, and cut into bits
1/4 cup minced onions
2 T. olive oil
1 link of Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup cooked chestnuts
1/4 cup white raisins
1 T. butter
4 or 5 T. chicken stock
salt, pepper to taste
Sauté the onions in the olive oil and add the sausage, breaking it into bits. Cook the sausage and onions, then add the raisins to the pan, along with a tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of chicken stock. Let it cool slightly. Beat an egg in a large bowl and add the bread and the cooked mixture from the pan. Add some parsley, salt and pepper and stir. It may be dry, so add more chicken stock. The stuffing should be moist, but not soaking wet. Spread the stuffing into the deboned legs and across the body of the chicken. Then take the two sides of the chicken and roll them toward the center. Truss the bird with kitchen twine and season with salt, pepper, rosemary and paprika. Smear a little olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan, place the chicken inside and roast for two hours at 350 degrees, basting two or three times with the juices and oil that comes out from the chicken. I also placed two onions in the pan, and drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper on them. Turn the onions over when you baste the chicken.
Remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.