A while back when traveling to New York, I downloaded Beyond the Pasta to read on the flight. The book shares the story of Mark Leslie, a theater actor from Alabama and avid cook, who lived in Italy for a month with a family to be immersed in the food and culture. I enjoyed this book from the first page and one of the passages stayed with me. It involved the Nonna in that book making a meatball stuffed chicken.
I tackled something like it yesterday. I deboned a chicken with the help of a video from the great Jacques Pepin and this knife. My big mistake was using too small of a bird – so I will try this again with a larger chicken – just so that it appears fuller.
The night before roasting – I seasoned the whole chicken with salt, pepper and placed slices of thin garlic under the skin along with some basil. Be sure to season in all the crevices – where the leg and thigh bone were and I placed garlic in there as well.
I had leftover meatballs and sauce in the freezer from a prior meal – I made basic meatballs – bread soaked in milk, Romano cheese, beef and pork mix, parsley, seasonings, onions and garlic – these meatballs I happen to coat in bread crumbs to make them extra crispy. For the sauce – I use a mix up of Marcella Hazan’s famous Tomato Butter sauce: to mine I add garlic cloves and end up pureeing the entire batch. I finish with fresh herbs at the end.
The bird came out of the fridge and I let it come to temperature for about 20 minutes while I prepped everything else. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
I had some leftover focaccia that I cubed up and made croutons to spread under the rack of a small roasting pan. You can use any leftover stale bread or totally skip this part – but those croutons were incredibly tasty.
Back to the bird — with the bird skin side down – I broke up about eight meatballs and stuffed it into all the cavities and down the middle. I added some extra sauce to the top before closing it up. I then folded one side of the chicken over and secured it with poultry lacing skewers so that everything stayed tucked in – I used about five skewers. Season the bird liberally on the skin side with salt and pepper. Place the bird on the rack – and drizzle with olive oil.
Place into the preheated oven to roast for approximately 40 to 45 minutes. My bird was small – so it was done in 40 minutes. You can check the temperature at the thigh and in the meatball stuffing to make sure the meatball mix is at 165 degrees. After removing it from the oven – I drizzled some olive oil on top and tented it with foil until I was ready to plate. After about ten to fifteen minutes – the bird is still hot but slices so much easier.
I served the chicken with some pasta and extra sauce and meatballs and it was a huge hit. The chicken was flavorful, tender and juicy and when sliced made a great presentation.
Random Number Generator picked comment #29 Elaine Charest.