Saturday, February 28, 2009

Roast Chicken with Cornbread Stuffing

In case you're worried, the chicken has green spots for a reason (sage leaves). So this week was my mom's birthday (Happy birthday, Mom!). To celebrate, we had a big family dinner complete with aunt, uncle and grandma. My mom was a little at a loss for what to serve. She wanted something nice that didn't require a ton of prep time, so I suggested roast chicken. This was partly for selfish reasons. I happen to love roast chicken. But also, its very versatile. You can use the leftovers for pretty much anything. I also have a new-found love of cornbread stuffing. I had always hated stuffing at Thanksgiving, mostly because it tends to be dry and have tons of celery (which I also hate). Cornbread stuffing, on the other hand, is moister, in part because cornbread itself is pretty moist and sweeter than bread.

Adapted from Tyler Florence recipe "Maple Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon and Cornbread Stuffing"

Eat Rating
Difficulty: Easy to Medium. You need some sort of basting brush or baster to glaze the chicken.

1 whole chicken for roasting, recommended 5-6 pounds
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 bunch of fresh sage leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped (LN: As I said, I hate celery. So I only put a little in. Add more as desired)
2 apples, cored and chopped
1 loaf of cornbread, chopped into cubes or torn into pieces (about 6 cups) (LN: If making from scratch, I recommend Jiffy.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set rack to lowest height. Chop sage leaves and then work into butter with your hands. The butter should be flecked with green spots all throughout.

In saute pan, melt half the sage butter, then saute chopped onion and celery about 5 minutes until softened. Put cornbread pieces in a medium bowl. Mix in chopped apple and softened onion/celery mix. Add the egg, buttermilk and chicken stock and mix until thoroughly moistened.

Wash chicken, removing gizzard packet from cavity. Pat dry with paper towel. Using your fingers, separate the chicken skin from the underlying meat on the breast and leg pieces. Slide pats of the remaining sage butter under the skin and massage into a thin layer. Fill the center cavity with the cornbread stuffing. Do not overpack. The cavity should fit about 1/3-1/2 of the stuffing. Grease an ovenproof bowl or casserole dish and place remaining stuffing in it to serve on the side.

Excess stuffing and maple-syrup glaze

In a small bowl, whisk the hot water with the maple syrup until it is the consistency of a glaze. Using a basting brush or baster, glaze the chicken with the maple syrup mixture. Place chicken in oven. Baste with the maple syrup mixture about ever 30 minutes. Place the extra dish of dressing in the oven about 30 minutes before the chicken will finish cooking. The chicken should take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook. If the roaster has a pop-up timer, remove from oven after the button pops. If there is no timer, check to ensure a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees before removing. When you cut into the thigh, the juice should run clear.

After removing from oven, scoop the stuffing from the chicken cavity and serve in a separate bowl. Cut chicken from bones and serve.

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