There are few foods as satisfying as a good roast chicken. Aside from a few simple twists and tweaks it is also pretty straight forward and the simplest methods are usually the best. I have read volumes on how to roast the best chicken, but seriously now, why complicate something so simple and so rewarding.
I did however decide to complicate things a little last week. I was training two lovely ladies on how to roast a chicken perfectly and wanted to spice things up for a little.
I have never personally stuffed a chicken before, its not a South African tradition. But as I had left over bread which had dried out it seemed like stuffing for the chicken was an obvious addition to the menu.
I surfed around the net a bit for ideas, but decided on a very simple stuffing which was easy to make from the ingredients I had in the cupboard. It was UNBELIEVABLE!!!! I can’t believe it has taken me so long to discover stuffing?
Come on South African, the whole of America is nuts about it, why doesn't everyone make it here! I will go as far as to say I will never roast a chicken without stuffing ever again. In fact I think I will be roasting chicken just so that I can enjoy the stuffing again!
I had also made far too much stuffing to fit inside the chicken so I made little balls of it and placed it around the chicken about 30 minutes before the bird was cooked and they sucked up the flavour of the cooking juices… wow!
Okay – enough already. Just try it and thank me later.
Herby Stuffing for Roast Chicken
Enough to stuff one chicken and left over to make stuffing balls, or enough for two roast chickens
3 cups of dried bread crumbs (I recommend using left over speciality bread, like rye, spelt, ciabatta, sour dough etc – dried and crumbed in a food processor)
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
¼ cup of fresh herbs, finely chopped – I used rosemary, sage, thyme and basil
¼ of a cup of Mrs Balls Chutney
1 cup of chicken or veg stock
1 tsp of salt
½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp of cold butter, chopped into little pieces
Combine all of the above ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until it forms a loose dough or paste like texture. Stuff your chicken and roast in a roasting pan which has enough room for you to add the stuffing balls later.
30 minutes before your chicken should be ready, take it out the oven and place balls of stuffing about the size of golf balls all around the roasting pan. Roast for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon some of the cooking juices over the stuffing balls before serving.
Herby roast chicken
One whole chicken
½ a cup of salt
½ a cup of sugar
1 whole free range chicken
2 Tbsp of soft butter
2 tsp of crushed garlic
1 tsp of lemon zest
1 Tbsp of lemon juice
½ a cup of fresh herbs, picked and chopped (parsley, oreganum, thyme, basil)
1 tsp of salt
1 Tbsp of olive oil
Pre-heat your oven to 200˚C and place the rack in the lower half of the oven.
Wash the chicken and the soak it for an hour submerged in one litre of cold water, with half a cup of salt and half a cup of sugar dissolved in it. Remove the chicken from the water and pat it dry with kitchen paper inside and out.
Make a paste by combining the butter, garlic, lemon, herbs and salt. Loosen the skin of the chicken over the breast meat by putting your fingers between the flesh and the skin, loosening the connective tissue. Loosen the skin right over the breast meat and legs. Flip the chicken and do the same with the skin over the thighs. The skin is less stretchy here, so be careful not to tear the skin.
Dot balls of the herb paste under the skin and gently press them flat with your fingers over the skin, evenly coating the whole chicken. Rub the skin with a little oil and sprinkle it with a salt.
Place it in a small roasting pan, breast side up. Roast for about 45 minutes to an hour turning the chicken every 15 minutes. If this skin is not golden and crispy, turn on the grill for a few minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven, covered with a lid and allow the chicken to rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve.
Stuff with the above mentioned stuffing.