Roast-Chicken (1)

Traditional Roast Stuffed Organic Chicken with Gravy

Dan’s chickens take 12 weeks to reach maturity. They are fed on organic feed and range freely on his farm in Dungourney, East Cork. Every Thursday and Saturday, customers queue at his stalls in Mahon Point and Midleton to buy the flavourful chickens.

A traditional roast stuffed chicken with lots of gravy is a forgotten flavour for many people, partly because unless you have access to a really good bird the smell and flavour will be quite different to ones childhood memory. People often feel that making stuffing is too bothersome but if you keep some breadcrumbs in the freezer it can literally be make in minutes. Should I cook the stuffing inside the bird or separately. The best place for the stuffing is inside the bird where it absorbs lots of delicious juices as it cooks. Do not overfill the bird otherwise the heat may not penetrate fully. This is particularly important if you are using an intensively reared bird which may be infected with
salmonella and or campylobacter.

Serves 6

  • 4 1/2 – 5 lbs (1.5 – 2.3kg) free range chicken, preferably organic

Giblet Stock

  • Giblets (keep the liver for a chicken liver pate), and wish bone
  • 1 thickly sliced carrot
  • 1 thickly sliced onion
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • a few parsley stalks and a sprig of thyme

Stuffing

  • 1 1/2 ozs (45g/1/3 stick) butter
  • 3 ozs (75g) chopped onion
  • 3-3 1/2 ozs (75-95g/1 1/2-1 3/4 cups) soft white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) finely chopped fresh herbs eg.
  • parsley, thyme, chives and annual marjoram
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • a little soft butter

Gravy

  • 1 – 1 1/2 pints (600-900mls/2 1/2 – 3 3/4 cups) of stock from giblets or chicken stock

Garnish

  • Sprigs of flat parsley

First remove the wish bone from the neck end of the chicken, this is easily done by lifting back the loose neck, skin and cutting around the wish bone with a small knife –
tug to remove, this isn’t at all essential but it does make carving much easier later on. Tuck the wing tips underneath the chicken to make a neat shape. Put the wish bone,
giblets, carrot, onions, celery and herbs into a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, skin and simmer gently while the chicken is roasting. This is the basis of the
gravy.

Next make the stuffing, sweat the onions gently in the butter in a covered saucepan until soft, 10 minutes approx. then stir in the white bread crumbs, the freshly chopped
herbs, a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold unless you are going to cook the chicken immediately. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then
season and half fill with stuffing. Season the breast and legs, smear with a little soft butter.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo4. Weight the chicken and allow about 20 minutes to the lb and 20 minutes over – put on middle shelf in oven. Baste a couple of
times during the cooking with the buttery juices. The chicken is done when the juices are running clear.

To test prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh, hold a spoon underneath to collect the liquid, examine the juices – they should be clear.

Remove the chicken to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow to rest while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy, tilt the roasting tin to one corner and spoon off the surplus fat from the juices and return the roasting pan to the stove. De glaze the pan juices with the fat
free stock from the giblets and bones (you will need 1-1 1/2 pints depending on the size of the chicken). Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelized meat
juices in the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like (the gravy should not be thick). Taste and correct seasoning, serve in a hot gravy boat. If possible serve the chicken on a nice carving dish surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and some sprigs of flat parsley then arm yourself with a sharp knife and bring it to the table. Carve as best you can following the diagrams on page 000 and ignore rude remarks if you are still practicing but do try to organise it so that each person gets some
brown and some white meat. Serve with gravy and bread sauce.

Use the cooked carcass for stock.

Download the Traditional Roast Stuffed Chicken recipe as PDF.

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