Friday, January 20, 2012

Chicken Stuffed with Wild Rice, Pears, Walnuts and Five Spice

I can't remember if I have said this before or not, but roasted chicken is one of my favorite meals. Simple and heartwarming, I am pretty sure there isn't a person out there who doesn't like a nice piece of crispy skin off a freshly roasted chicken. Well, besides vegetarians of course. (Come on vegetarians... you know you want it too.)

Anyway, I am kind of just remaking a recipe that I posted much earlier except that I am using a small roasting chicken instead of four game hens. Just as in that recipe, you don't really need to follow the stuffing instructions/directions completely. More speficially, you don't need to use wild rice. White rice is not a good substitute, but grain mixes are an excellent substitute. (I'd reccomend any blends of couscous, orzo, baby garbanzos and red quinoa.)

The key to this recipe, as in all my poultry recipes, is the brining. While it requires a little forethought by buying the meat a day before and brining it overnight, it is completely worth it. I mean, you really don't spend any extra time in the kitchen and you get a superior product in the end. (It also costs essentially nothing too.)

Don't have the time to make the stuffing? Don't like stuffing? That's okay because it's not needed. Just follow all the other steps and you'll have my recipe for simple roasted chicken.

Roasted Chicken Stuffed with Wild Rice and Apples:
1 small roasting chicken
1/2 gallon (8 cups) hot tap water
1/2 gallon (8 cups) cold tap water
1 cup coarse kosher salt
1/2 white sugar

1. Add the sugar and salt to a nonreactive container just large enough to hold the chicken.
2. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the hot water and then add the cold water.
3. Remove the bag inside the chicken and reserve of discard. (That stuff makes amazing gravy.) Add the chicken and weigh it down with a plate to fully submerge.
4. Refridgerate the chicken 3 to 8 hours in the brine. (The longer the better.)
5. When the chicken is done brining, remove it from the brining solution and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in the refrigerator uncovered to air dry for up to 24 hours. (Air drying the skin drastically enhances the crispness of the skin. The longer you air dry it the better too.)

1 1/2 cups wild rice mix
3 cups chicken broth or water
2 pears
4 or 5 tablespoons raisins, or dried cranberries
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoons five spice powder or ground cinnamon
4 o 5 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

1. Bring the broth or water to a boil over medium heat.
2. Add the rice and reduce the heat to low. Cook the rice until all of the liquid is absorbed, 25 to 35 minutes.
3. While the rice cooks peel and dice the pears into one inch cubes. Quickly toss the pears in the lemon juice after you cut them if you want to stop them from browning. (This isn't necessary though.)
4. When the rice is done cooking, add all the stuffing ingredients and mix well. Reserve for the chicken.

Assembly and cooking:
2 tablespoons butter (optional)
2 tablespoons honey (optional)
Coarse kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Butchers twine, or any cotton twine

1. Preheat an oven to 400F.
2. While the oven preheats, stuff the chicken with the stuffing and truss it.
3. Melt the butter and honey in the microwave and then baste the chicken with the glaze. (This gets the skin dark brown and a little more crispy too, but it is not needed.)
4. Generously salt and pepper the chicken and place it on a wire rack. Place this in a broiler pan or roasting pan.
5. When the oven is preheated, throw the chicken in the oven with the drumsticks facing you.
6. Let this roast for 40 minutes until you open the oven. After 40 minutes, take the chicken out and check the temperature. We want it to hit 165F before it comes out. If it is done, let it rest for 10 minutes. If it is not done just throw it in again for another 15 to 30 minutes until it  registers 165F with a thermometer.
7. Once the chicken is done and has rested for the 15 to 30 minutes carve and serve with the stuffing.
Family style on the Big Blue Plate

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