How to Stuff and Cook a Boned Chicken, Illustrated

Stuffed Boned Chicken, with Caponata: Enjoy!

Stuffed Boned Chicken, with Caponata: Enjoy!

Cooking a chicken once you have boned it is easy: you simply prepare the stuffing, stuff the bird, and cook it, and it should come as no surprise that there are a great many Italian recipes for stuffing birds, especially chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese. But as is true always, there are a few caveats.

In particular, since there is no skeleton to hold the meat up, it tends to settle during cooking, and as a result the stuffing is much firmer than it would be in an unboned bird.

Italian cooks take this into account in preparing stuffings; they generally use ground meats and other firmer ingredients, for example chestnuts or apples, rather than bread, and the stuffing serves to increase the amount of meat available, rather than act as a side dish. A chicken stuffed in the Italian way will easily serve 8, and there may be leftovers.

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: What You'll Need

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: What You’ll Need

A Simple Stuffed Chicken Recipe

This is a very simple recipe of my mother-in-law’s that works well year round; I prefer to serve it warm in the winter months, and cool in the summer. You’ll need:

  • A boned medium-to-large chicken
  • 1 pound (500 g) ground veal
  • 1/4 pound (125 g) cooked ham
  • 1/4 pound (125 g) mortadella
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, chopped
  • 3-5 leaves sage, shredded
  • The leaves from a 6-inch (15 cm) sprig of rosemary, chopped
  •  2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A mesh bag, a heavy-duty needle, and butcher’s twine

 

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Blend the Meats, But Not Too Finely

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Blend the Meats, But Not Too Finely

Put the meats in the blender.
Put the ground veal in the blender with the ham and the mortadella. Blend the mixture, using the pulse function of the blender to shred the cold cuts. Don’t overblend or you will end up with a paste.

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Combine the Other Ingredients of the Stuffing

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Combine the Other Ingredients of the Stuffing

Turn the blended meats out into a bowl and add to the olives and nuts. You can use whatever kind of olive you prefer; in this case I used plain black pitted olives cured in brine, and left them whole so they would be easier to see in the picture. I generally chop them, and also chop the pistachios. If you want you can also use a mixture of nuts, for example pistachios and walnuts.

Next, add the herbs — both sage and rosemary are nice with ground veal, and parsley is universal — and season to taste with salt and pepper; I went heavier on the pepper here because mortadella and ham are both salty. Feel free to use other herbs and spices as well, for example, a little paprika or freshly ground nutmeg.

In any case, mix the stuffing well.

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Sew The Neck Opening Shut with Butcher's Twine

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Sew The Neck Opening Shut with Butcher’s Twine

To keep the stuffing from leaking out as the chicken cooks, sew the neck cavity shut using a heavy needle (an upholsterer’s needle is perfect here) and heavy thread or butchers’ twine. If you don’t have butcher’s twine, use a couple of long wooden skewers.

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Now, Stuff the Bird

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Now, Stuff the Bird

Fill the chicken with the stuffing, pressing it down firmly — unlike a bread stuffing, which should be light and airy, here you want something fairly compact. Should you have any leftover stuffing, it makes excellent meatballs.

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Before Bagging the Chicken, Tie it Lengthwise

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Before Bagging the Chicken, Tie it Lengthwise

When you finish stuffing the bird, sew the second opening shut and run a length of twine from top to bottom of the bird to help it keep its shape.

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Turn the Mesh Bag Inside Out

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Turn the Mesh Bag Inside Out

Since it’s boned, the chicken will be more delicate as it cooks, and can fall apart, especially if you boil it. To combat this problem, use a length of finely woven mesh of the sort butchers have, tying a knot in it and turning it inside out to make a mesh bag. Another option is to use a small muslin bag.

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Tied Widthwise Too, And Into the Pot

To Stuff a Boned Chicken: Tied Widthwise Too, And Into the Pot

Put the chicken in the bag, and tie it as you might a salami, wrapping it crosswise so as to make the chicken elongate. Prick the skin in several spots with a carving fork.

Though you can roast a stuffed chicken, my mother-in-law prefers to boil it, putting it in cold water to cover with a carrot, a stick of celery, an onion stuck with two cloves, and several sprigs of parsley. Season the water with several peppercorns and salt to taste, and add the bones of the carcass, if you have them. Bring the pot to a boil and simmer the chicken for about 2 hours, skimming the foam that rises to the top of the pot occasionally.

Remove the mesh bag and thinly slice the chicken crosswise. Arrange the slices on a platter and serve them with mayonnaise, pickles, and whatever other vegetables you prefer. In this case we had caponata (Sicilian stewed vegetables) with our stuffed chicken.

The water the chicken cooked in will be an excellent broth; after you have degreased it you can use it to make something along the lines of stracciatella, Roman egg-drop soup, or serve it with tortellini or pastina.

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Categories: Illustrated Recipes And More, Whole Chickens and Other Birds

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.

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