Sunday, November 22, 2009

Countdown to T-Day: Rosemary Chicken with Stuffing

Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks, eating ridiculous amounts of food and watching really bad movies.  I'm already ahead of the game watching "Sphere" with Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson.  It's gotta be the worst movie ever.  An alien named, "Jerry" is communicating with them via their DOS computer system and they are being killed by alien jellyfish.

I can't believe there's only 5 days left 'til T-Day and I've got so much to do.  I remembered to take the turkey out of the freezer so it will be thawed just in time.

I'm testing out a gluten free apple pie as I write and the aroma smells awesome!  Just tasted it.  It's pretty good, but it needs some fine tuning.  More sugar, more butter and more cinnamon.  Guess I'll have to bake another one.

Well, here's my recipe for cooking a whole chicken along with my gluten free stuffing recipe.  There's actually two ways, one type for those of you who are more "savory" in your tastes and one for those of you who are more "sweet".

Rosemary Chicken: the savory way
1 whole chicken (organic preferrably)
2-4 sprigs rosemary
2-4 tablespoons butter or alternative spread
several sweet potatoes cut in half (depending on their size) with skins still on--really as many as you can fit in your roasting pan--you won't regret it!
2 oranges cut in wedges
*4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped and mixed with a small amount of olive oil (this is optional if you like garlic)

Clean the chicken thoroughly with water, or better yet, have someone else clean it for you.  Stuff the bird (see my stuffing recipe below). Place it in the roasting pan breast side up.  Cut small slits in the skin and use your finger or a dull knife to loosen the skin. Take the rosemary sprigs and stick them under the skin.  The rosemary tends to be pretty strong so really only one sprig per breast is all that is needed, but if you love rosemary go for more.  *Take the garlic and oil mixture and spoon into the slits in the skin as well pouring the remaining mix on top of the bird.

Place the sweet potatoes in the bottom of the pan around the base of the bird.  You can use them to help prop the bird up, i.e. under the wings, etc. Mix the orange wedges in with the sweet potatoes.

Spread the butter all over the top and sides of the bird.  Add a small amount of water to the bottom of the pan (about 2-3 tablespoons).  Bake in the oven at about 375 degrees (lower to 350 after the 1st hour)  for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Make sure to baste the bird intermittently after the first 30 minutes.  I highly recommend buying a turkey baster if you do not have one.  I never had one until this last bird I cooked and it was GREAT!  It even came with this injector so you could suck up the juice in the bottom of the pan and then inject the bird with it.  It's crazy!  I accidentally basted the stove top with it.  There was chicken juice everywhere!

Here is another alternative for preparing a whole chicken for anyone who prefers a sweeter tasting bird...

Citrus Chicken: the sweet way
1 whole chicken
1-2 two oranges sliced thin
2-3 tablespoons butter or alternative
Several sweet potatoes

Prepare the chicken as above except instead of using rosemary use the orange slices under the skin of the bird.  Put them wherever they will fit, along the breast, along the thigh, anywhere.  Cook the same amount of time.

Here's my stuffing recipe for either bird.  Again, if you don't like rosemary don't add it to the stuffing.

The BEST Stuffing Recipe:
1/2 loaf brown rice bread (I get mine from Trader Joe's.  It's the kind that is about the same weight and size as a brick.  You could probably use it as a weapon if need be. It's that dense.)
1 small onion, finely chopped (yellow or red is best)
4-6 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt (add more if you feel like)
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 eggs
olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary (optional)
1-2 tablespoons pesto

Chop the bread into small cubes and place in large mixing bowl.  Then add the celery, onion and walnuts.  In another bowl beat the eggs with the salt, pesto, rosemary and some crushed pepper.  Then add the egg mixture in with the bread mix.  This is where things get messy so make sure your bird is ready nearby to be stuffed.  Use your hands to mix all the stuffing ingredients very well.  It should all be damp (not wet).  If it doesn't feel damp enough you can add some olive oil to it and mix well.

Take small fist fulls of the stuffing and jam it into the bird.  Continue to stuff as much of it as you can into the bird.  If you can't fit it all, mold the remaining amount to the entrance of the bird.  That is my favorite part of the stuffing because it gets crispy...mmmm....crispy stuffing.

That's it!  The surprise is the sweet potatoes.  They come out amazingly sweet from all the juices, especially from the oranges.

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