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Butterflied Chickens Roasted on Old-Fashioned Stuffing

Butterflied Chickens Roasted on Old-Fashioned Stuffing

Autumn 2020

By: Eric Vellend

Instead of a big bird, two small chickens are butterflied, drybrined and roasted to juicy perfection on a bed of herbed sourdough stuffing. If you want to get in the Thanksgiving spirit, serve this dish with your favourite cranberry sauce or even the quivering red cylinder from a can. (Recipe for Autumn Slaw follows.)

Serves 6 to 8

CHICKENS

2 small chickens, each about 2½ to 3 lbs (1.13 to 1.36 kg)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tbsp (45 mL) chopped sage
2 tbsp (30 mL) canola oil

STUFFING

10 cups (2.5 L) cubed rustic sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter
1 lb (455 g) onions, peeled, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped inner celery leaves
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped sage
2 cups (500 mL) unsalted chicken stock

1. For the chickens, remove backbones with poultry shears or have your butcher do it. Lay them out on a baking sheet, skin-side up. With the palm of your hand, flatten the breasts and tuck the wing tips underneath the breasts. Season generously with salt, pepper and sage. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate at least 1 day and up to 2 days.

2. For the stuffing, if your bread is fresh, lay it out it on a baking sheet to dry out for 2 hours before transferring it to a large mixing bowl.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. In a large frying pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and lightly golden, about 15 minutes. (The celery will still have some bite.) Stir in celery leaves and herbs. Cook 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add vegetables to bowl with bread.

5. Return pan to burner and add chicken stock. Raise heat to high. When it comes to a boil, season lightly with salt. Pour over bread and stir until combined and stock is absorbed. Transfer mixture to baking sheet and spread in even layer.

6 Wipe pan clean and place over medium-high heat. Add canola oil. Pat chickens dry with paper towel. Working with one at a time, cook chicken skin-side down until brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully flip and cook on other side just until it loses its raw colour, 1 minute more. Arrange chickens skin-side up over stuffing.

7. Bake on middle rack until juices run clear, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Using tongs and a large spatula, carefully transfer chickens to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Transfer stuffing to serving dish, putting crispy bits on top. Cover stuffing loosely with foil. Let chickens rest for 20 minutes then carve into serving pieces and arrange on a serving platter.

Serves 6 to 8


AUTUMN SLAW

A fall spin on a summer favourite finds red cabbage, root vegetables and tart apple in a tangy dressing sweetened with honey and nutty with walnut oil. It can be mixed ahead of time—the cabbage will stain the other vegetables— but make sure to serve it straight from the fridge to maintain its fresh crunch.

1 tbsp (15 mL) mayonnaise
1 tbsp (15 mL) grainy mustard
2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard
2 tsp (10 mL) honey
¼ cup + 2 tbsp (90 mL) apple cider vinegar
¼ cup (60 mL) roasted walnut oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 lb (455 g) red cabbage, cored, thinly sliced on mandoline
¼ lb (340 g) celeriac, peeled, cut into julienne
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into julienne
1 large Granny Smith apple, halved, cored, cut into thin strips
1½ tsp (7 mL) chopped thyme
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk mayo, mustards, honey and vinegar until honey is dissolved. Slowly whisk in walnut oil to form emulsified dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to airtight container. Refrigerate up to 1 week.

2. Soak shallot in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Place it in a large mixing bowl with cabbage, celeriac, carrots, apple and herbs. Pour dressing over vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Using tongs, mix thoroughly. Transfer to serving bowl.

Serves 8
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