Braised Chicken with Bread and Bacon Stuffing

Adapted from Molly Steven’s recipe in All About Braising

The Stuffing:  Make ahead and refrigerate)

4 TBSP rendered chicken fat or butter

1.5 cups chopped yellow onion
2/3 cup finely chopped inner celery with leaves  (4 small stalks)
2/3 cup finely chopped baked ham (I used prosciutto de Parma)
1/3 lightly toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup currants soaked in warm water for 20 minutes (I used golden raisins and did not soak)
5 cups 1″ bread pieces torn from slightly stale rustic white bread (about 8 oz)
2 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) I highly recommend making this
salt and pepper

The Braise:
One 6-7 lb. roasting chicken, neck, heart and gizzard reserved
salt and pepper
2 to 2-1/4 cups chicken stock
1 TBSP rendered chicken fat or butter
1 TBSP olive oil
1 large or 2 small carrots, coarsely chopped ( I used 2 large chunked up)
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 large fresh bay leaves
3 strips lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 strips thick cut applewood smoked bacon
1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)


The Stuffing:

Melt the fat or butter in a saucepan and add the onion and celery.  Cook for about 7 minutes or until translucent.   Transfer to a medium bowl and toss with the ham, pine nuts, currants or raisins, parsley and bread. Toss to evenly distribute the ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 325.

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water.  Pat dry.  Chop off the wing tips (I did not do this) and reserve.   Season inside and out with salt and pepper.   Stuff with enough stuffing to fill the cavity taking care to NOT PACK TIGHTLY as the stuffing will expand in the cavity.   Place any leftover stuffing in a buttered baking dish and pour over ½-3/4 cup of chicken stock, enough to barely moisten the stuffing. Cover with foil and set aside.   I had quite a bit of stuffing left so I used more broth.

Truss the chicken: “Using a length of kitchen string about 30 inches long, truss the chicken: Loop the middle of the string around the ends of the two drumsticks to pull them together. Now bring the ends of the string back along the sides of the chicken, running the string between the leg and the breast on both sides, then turn the chicken over and snag the string over the base of the neck so that it won’t slide down the chicken’s back. Knot the string securely and trim off close to the knot.

Heat the butter or chicken fat and oil in the Dutch oven. Once it’s hot add the carrots, onions, wing tips, neck, gizzard and heart. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat everything and sauté until brown in spots (about 7 minutes).

Add the rosemary, bay leaves, thyme, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for one more minute.

Add the wine and bring to a rapid simmer.

Set the chicken on top of the vegetables. Lay the bacon strips over the chicken from head to tail (use 1 of the strips cut in half to cover each leg.   Gently pout 1.5 cups of stock over the chicken and bring it to a boil.

Cover the chicken with parchment paper and tuck the edges around the chicken. Cover the pan tightly with the lid or with a sheet of heavy duty foil. Slide the pan onto the lower rack of the oven, basting every 30-40 minutes by spooning some of the braising liquid over the breast and lefts. Continue braising until the juices run clear or when the temperature between the thighs and the breast reads 170, about 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 hours.

When the chicken is almost done, put the dish of stuffing into the oven alongside it or on the rack above it to heat through, about 25 minutes.

Transfer to the chicken to a sturdy baking sheet and loosely cover it with foil. Increase the oven temperature to 475.

While the oven is heating, tilt the braising pan and skim off as much surface fat as possible. Retrieve the bay leaves, lemon zest, wing tips, heart, neck, and gizzard with tongs. Transfer the vegetables and juices to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the sauce into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir in cream.

While the sauce is heating, place the chicken in the oven and roast until the top is browned and crusty, about 10 minutes.
Serve the chicken along with the stuffing and browned bacon. Pour gravy over and have the remaining sauce on the table.


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