• Saturday, September 22, 2018
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Crave

A juicy roast chicken can rival any turkey

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    Why not buck tradition this Thanksgiving and serve stuffed chicken instead of turkey?

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Time to get real, people, and own up to Thanksgiving’s dirty little secret.

That 20-pound bird you spend so much time fretting over and slave to get in the oven? Um, nobody loves it.

Your family might like it well enough to eat it at your holiday dinner, so long as there’s a boat full of gravy within reaching distance or a big jar of mayo in the fridge for the next day’s sandwiches.

Well, maybe not everyone hates it. There’s always a weirdo or two at the table willing to eat anything simply because it’s set in front of him.

But do your dinner guests love turkey in the same way they adore stuffing, which never makes it to leftover status? Does it rival Grandma’s candied sweet potatoes? Elicit the same excitement as the homemade corn pudding, or green bean casserole with its irresistible crunchy French’s fried onion topping?

Or are your dinner guests simply being polite about this turkey of an entree so that they won’t feel guilty scarfing down the pumpkin pie served for dessert?

Turkey isn’t necessarily hard to cook (just stuff, grease it up and roast it), but it does take a deft touch to assure the white and dark meat finish cooking at the same time.

This year, why not flout tradition and instead make your Thanksgiving centerpiece something your guests will really enjoy — a fat, juicy chicken. It’s just as impressive on a platter, and tasty, but takes a lot less time to make. Whereas turkey so often cooks up dry and flavorless, a good roast chicken will never let you down.

This recipe from Kevin Dundon’s “The Raglan Road Cookbook” calls for cooking the bird with an initial blast of high heat, followed by roasting at a lower temperature. Wonderfully aromatic and a breeze to prepare, the dish delivers everything you expected from a good roast chicken — crisp skin, tender breast meat and dense, flavorful dark meat.

In short, it’s glorious and a great way to kick off a new Thanksgiving tradition.

Note: Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, but it’s not a bad idea to take it out of the oven once it’s reached 155 or 160 degrees — a few minutes on the counter before serving will allow the meat to rest and the internal temperature to rise.

Stuffed Chicken With Roasted Root Vegetables

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more to rub on chicken
  • 1/2 medium-size onion, diced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped sage, parsley, thyme or rosemary
  • 4 cups soft white breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large good-quality roasting chicken (4 to 5 pounds)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • >> Roasted vegetables:
  • 8 small carrots, halved lengthwise
  • 2 small parsnips, halved and cut into wedges
  • 12 large shallots, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and black pepper

To prepare stuffing: Melt butter in a medium-size saucepan, add diced onion and cook over very low heat for 5 minutes or until completely softened. Mix in lemon zest, herbs and breadcrumbs. Season lightly. Let cool.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss vegetables in oil and add thyme. In a large roasting pan with a rack, spread vegetables in an even layer.

Stuff cavity of chicken with breadcrumb mixture. Add half a lemon, to keep stuffing in place and for additional flavor. Loosen skin of chicken. Rub additional butter into the breasts under the skin and over the outside of the chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the skin.

Place chicken on top of vegetables in roasting pan so they catch all the drippings. (If you don’t have a roasting pan with a rack, place the vegetables in the pan first and rest the chicken on top.)

Roast 15 to 20 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and cook another hour, or until juices run clear. The meat, particularly on the legs and thighs, should feel tender. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 165 degrees. Serves 4 to 6.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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