I first encountered this recipe for a roast chicken stuffed under the skin (Friday Chicken) in a cookbook by Mary and Vincent Price (yes, that Vincent Price!), A Treasury of Great Recipes, published in 1965. They called it “Friday Chicken” because it’s perfect weekend food. Serve it to your family and friends on a Friday evening; then eat the leftovers cold over the weekend. It’s a wonderful choice for an elegant picnic or lunch.
Richard Olney had his own version called “Poulet Fendu Farci” in his book Simple French Food. He used a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, herbs, butter, onion and zucchini. There are no breadcrumbs in that stuffing recipe; it would be a good choice for Paleo or gluten free diets. (Let me know if you would be interested in seeing that recipe in another post.)
Over the years I’ve read (and cooked) several other variations. The basic idea is the same in them all; stuff the chicken under the skin with something flavorful, then roast it. You could use pesto, butter and fresh herbs, ricotta and spinach, or (as in this case) an actual stuffing. I’m partial to the one I use with our Thanksgiving turkey. The stuffing bastes the chicken ensuring wonderfully juicy flavorful white meat and crisp skin.
Substitute your own favorite stuffing and it will be equally delicious. There are a few rules though…use use fresh bread rather than dried croutons or cubes, make sure the sausage is cooked, and don’t spare the butter or oil. The stuffing needs to be cool before handling so time it appropriately.
I’m taking this to Fiesta Friday as part of the second block party celebrating the one year anniversay of Angie’s (from the blog The Novice Gardener) weekly celebration. Fiesta Friday joins together bloggers interested in food, travel, and related topics for a weekly virtual party. Last week we concentrated on appetizers and drinks, this week it will be main courses and desserts. Friday Chicken makes great leftovers!
Friday Chicken – Stuffing
- 4 tablespoons of butter, plus more if needed
- 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, either bulk or removed from casings
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 large stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
- Pinch or red pepper flakes
- 2 fresh brioche rolls or other soft bread, torn into pieces
- 8 oz. of cornbread, crumbled
- 2 small handfuls of golden raisins or currents
- 1 large chicken (I’ve used roasting chickens to great success and more leftovers)
- Melt the butter in a large skillet.
- Add the sausage, crumble it into small pieces as it browns.
- Add the onion, celery, Herbs de Provence, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.
- Stir and continue to sauté on medium heat until the onion and celery are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile tear the cornbread and brioche bread into pieces in a large bowl.
- Add the raisins and mix.
- When cooked, add the contents of the skillet and mix well.
- If the contents look dry (it depends on how much fat is in your sausage), add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet to melt. Then add it to the bowl.
- Cover and set aside to cool. In my household that needs to be far away from the edge of the counter and the reach of the dogs.
Preparing and baking the chicken
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- You will need a roasting pan big enough to hold a rack, preferably V shapped
- Remove about 2 cups of stuffing into another bowl (you will not want to contaminate the bulk of the stuffing)
- Dry the whole chicken with paper towels, inside and out
- Gently, with your hands, loosen the skin over the breast and legs. You do this by gently sliding your hand under the skin. Be careful not to tear it.
- Press the stuffing into the cavity you’ve created completely covering the breast and pushing the stuffing over the tops of the legs and thighs. If it tears slightly (this often happens near the tail end) use a small skewer or toothpick to sew the skin together.
- Brush the chicken with butter or oil and place on the rack.
- Roast for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until done, timing will depend on the size of your chicken and how “done” you like it. We prefer our chicken still very slightly pink. If it browns too quickly, tent the breast loosely with foil.
Baked Remaining stuffing
- Put the remaining stuffing into a baking dish, add about ¾ cup of chicken stock and cover the dish with foil.
- When the chicken has baked for 35 minutes, add the stuffing to the oven.
- Bake covered for 25 minutes, then uncover until the top has browned and is crisp.
- Serve with the chicken.
This stuffing is exceptional. Over the years I’ve changed it to reflect the changing tastes of my family and friends. The original “seed” recipe came from my (now ex) mother-in-law in Wisconsin. She used hamburger rolls, poultry seasoning, margarine, and raisins. The raisins have remained as a crucial part of the recipe.
Use any leftover stuffing in sandwiches, as a “bed” for poached eggs, or in a bread soup. The cornbread and brioche will thicken the broth beautifully.
The panini above was made with raisin stuffing (regular dark raisins), cranberry sauce, red onions, and mozzarella. It’s reason enough to make stuffing even if it isn’t Christmas or Thanksgiving.