Make, Jane, make!: Quick Roast Chicken and Sage Ciabatta Stuffing


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Monday, September 26, 2011

Quick Roast Chicken and Sage Ciabatta Stuffing

So the other night, I decided to do a big batch dinner and make two dinners with my fresh sage at once. I made these chicken and sage meatballs with brown gravy and stuffed and roasted two chickens.

Sad as it is, I don't have a single picture of the gorgeous finished roasted chickens since pieces of skin, wings and meat were picked off the birds as soon as they were cool enough to handle... this happens a lot with roasted meat at our house. The kids actually had a second dinner/bedtime snack when they smelled the chicken come out of the oven!

But anyway, I do enjoy roasting chickens because they make such a quick easy meal. Add some salad or frozen corn/peas/veggies and a carb and you've got the whole meal. If you roast them on top of potatoes as Martha and chef Jean Georges vonGerichten do here, then you've got your carbs covered as well. (That recipe is absolutely delicious, btw! The potatoes are butter and chicken-fat-soaked heaven!)

I almost always roast two chickens at once, since the oven's already on and the roasted meat can always be used later in the week in pastas, chicken salads, sandwiches, stir fries, etc or frozen for later use. In this instance, I froze three of the four cooked breasts for lazy dinners in the future and we ate the wings straight away (because freshly roasted, crispy chicken wings aren't the same when reheated!) The thighs and remaining breast were saved for the next night's dinner since we'd already had some meatballs.

To make use of my sage, I added it to some super old, super hard and crusty ciabatta that I had saved for just such an occasion.

Added some salt and pepper and poured in a little melted butter and enough milk to soften and bind the whole mess together.

I mixed this all up and let it sit and soak up the milk as I went about making my other dinner (meatballs). When I had the meatballs simmering, I stuffed my chickens and buttered them up. At this point, I also like to get a small bowl of salt and pepper ready to that I can do all the greasy, buttery, raw chicken stuff in one go.

Here are the chickens: buttered all over, salt and pepper mixture rubbed over them and set up on their sides, ready for roasting. The legs are simply crossed over each other and tied together to the tail using some twine. The wings are tucked up into their own armpits. (You could certainly bind the chickens properly, so that they stay nice and shapely, but I find this unnecessary for a casual family supper.)

Side note: the chickens were pretty hard to balance this way - since I normally have a bed of potatoes underneath which makes wedging them upright much easier.

I roasted them at 400F for approximately 90 minutes, turning them from one side to the other, and finally breast up for the final browning. Our chickens are always humungous (5 pounds or more), so smaller chickens would definitely be done within an hour. You'll probably find that the bottom of the pan starts getting a lot of crusty bits that may be starting to dry out/burn. Add water to the bottom of you pan as necessary to keep the pan drippings from burning.

I didn't make any gravy from my drippings, but I didn't want to waste those yummy salty drippings either! So I did put the empty pan over a burner and deglazed it with some water to get some super concentrated chicken jus.

Not that attractive in the oil separator, but very yummy once the jus was separated... turned into a beautiful brown chicken jelly in the fridge! (btw, I can't recommend this product enough - the Trudeau fat separator. It's does a really good job of separating the oil and chunky bits without wasting very much sauce. It's also dishwasher safe which makes the clean-up of an oily plastic cup super easy!)

Bonus of saving the jus: it effectively cleans out the roasting pan... so all that was left for me to do was use some dish soap to get the oiliness out. No need to scrub any burnt on bits!

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