Not So Dumb a Cluck

September 24 – September 30, 2018

NIcoise toast 2

Monday:                      Nicoise Toast / Romaine with Green Goddess Dressing

penne

Tuesday:                      Penne with Buttermilk, Peas, and Pecans

blt

Bereft of pictures, not even sure what we cooked – here is my BLT from Sunday morning

Wednesday:                ?

BBQ beans with bacon

Again no pictures – Barbecued Baked Beans with much Bacon from Saturday

Thursday:                    Dunnings for me, Beez cooked Chicken Parmesan with Arugula Salad to go along with the Guinness Brown Bread I baked for her.

eggs

Friday:                         Eggs with Herbs and Ham, Salad and Guinness Brown Bread

burrata salad 2

Burrata Salad

Saturday:                     Burrata, Green Goddess App, Barbecued Chicken / Barbecue Beans / Cole Slaw / Ice Cream with Blackberry Sauce

Sunday:                       Leftovers with UFR before Steelers v Ravens game

“I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.”    – King Henry IV of France

 I think that I feel at least as solicitous toward my friends and family as Hank did for his peasants.  In fact, I don’t believe that King Henry spent much hang time with the peasants, and rarely dropped by with a casserole or a Bundt cake.  Whereas, a major part of my life is dining with friends and family.  And, from what I’ve heard, the King didn’t know how to boil water or even dress himself, much less butcher and roast a chicken.  But, to give him his due, history records he was a fine tennis player and good with dogs – so that’s something.

Now, this recipe is from the week before last.  If you read my last posting, you may remember that I promised to share a great new roast chicken recipe.  And I know that I have already shared, maybe, 500 chicken recipes with you.  But indulge me in at least one more*.  In fact, if all I ever did was to share roast chicken dishes, you would still want to try this one.  I’m not sure that we’ve ever cooked a tastier bird – and I can’t remember ever seeing so many pleased faces at the dinner table as when Hilda, Julie and Tim tasted this dish.

  • Who am I kidding?  I have yet to cook a Tandoor Chicken or Chicken Vindaloo, or the innumerable Teriyaki, Tepiyaki and other delicious Japanese preparations.  There will be more chicken in future blogs.

I’m going to be a little short with you, not because I’m in a bad mood – indeed, I’m blessed by almost never being in a bad mood – but because I’ve been particularly busy recently and have been getting the blog out late.  I shoot for Thursday or Friday of the week following, but the last two blogs have been published on Monday and Sunday, respectively.  In fact, I’ve had trouble remembering which week I was writing about and what we actually cooked.  Without Beez, there would have been large gaps in the roster.

And I’ve had to reconstruct another confusing week by myself – Beez has been out of town on business.  When she leaves I am always disoriented and Rusty, the Wonder Dog, becomes positively neurotic.  Indeed, the whole neighborhood adopts a somber aspect and the Steelers usually lose.  But she’s coming back tonight (I’m writing this on Tuesday, the 2nd), so things should look better tomorrow.  As you’ll be able to say the day before you cook this dish.

zucchini and herb stuffed chicken

ZUCCHINI-AND-HERB-STUFFED-CHICKEN

(Adapted from FOOD & WINE’S adaption of an Richard Olney recipe, F&W, Oct, 2018)

Timing:                                                2-3 Hours

Ingredients                                          Serves 6

1 4-5 lb. Chicken
2 lbs. Zucchini grated
5 ½ tablespoons Kosher salt (divided into 2 tsp, 1 ½ teaspoon and 2 tsp amounts)
¾ cup ricotta cheese
¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano coarsely grated
¼ cup butter, softened (Leave out 2 hours before cooking)
1 Tbs chopped marjoram (fresh) – we used oregano
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper divided into 2 equal amounts of 1 ½ teaspoons
2 tablespoons of herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Prep:

Pat chicken dry (remove giblets) and spatchcock, then carefully loosen the skin over the breasts, drumsticks and thighs.  You want to keep the skin intact.

Transfer the chicken, breast up, to a wire rack set into a baking pan.

Measure out herbs and condiments.

Make the Stuffing and stuff the chicken:

Grate the zucchini and toss with 2 teaspoons of salt in a colander set over a large bowl.  Let stand until liquid is released – 20 minutes or so.  Then transfer to a kitchen towel and squeeze as much liquid from zucchini as possible.  This takes some serious wringing and squeezing.  There will be a lot of liquid and you’ll want to drain it off to make a usable stuffing.

While the zucchini sits, heat the oven to 475 F and spatchcock the chicken, then carefully loosen the skin over the breasts, drumsticks and thighs (you’ll need to move your finger around the drumstick to the bottom side to get to the thighs).  Do this carefully – you want to keep the skin intact.

Don’t know how to spatchcock a chicken?  You’ll need this in your repertoire.  Listen up.

Place the chicken breast-down on a cutting board and using poultry shears (this can be done with a boning knife, if you’re good – but take my advice and buy some shears) cut along both sides of the backbone.  Discard the backbone.  Turn the chicken breast side up and place a heavy skillet (cast-iron works well) on it and press firmly until the breastbone cracks and keep pressing until the breast meat is 1inch thick.

Stir together ricotta, breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, softened butter, marjoram (oregano), egg yolk, drained zucchini, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and 1 ½ teaspoons of pepper until combined.  Now stuff the zucchini mixture under the skin of the breast, drumsticks and thighs.  This will take some time – work lumps of stuffing under the skin to the bottom of the breast, thighs and drumsticks but massaging the skin.  Mold and evenly distribute the stuffing.

Season and Cook the Chicken:

Stir together herbes de Provence, the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of pepper in a small bowl.  Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and then sprinkle with the seasoning mixture.

Bake the chicken until the skin is lightly browned – about 25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F and bake for 30 minutes, at which point you should baste every 10 or 15 minutes for another 50 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thick portion of the thigh registers 155 F.

Remove chicken from oven and let sit about 20 minutes, at which point the thermometer should register 165 F.  If the temperature was higher when the chicken came out of the oven, you may get away with a 10-minute rest.

Carve the chicken into 8 pieces (drumsticks, thighs and breasts cut in half) and serve.

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