Thursday, April 14, 2011

Roasted Chicken with Spinach-Rice Stuffing

I can't stretch a chicken into 5 meals as some people can, but I do enjoy a roasted bird once in a while. It's really so easy to throw a chicken into the oven and to make a 'stuffing' to accompany the delicious, juicy meat (I don't stuff the bird with stuffing, but I still call it stuffing... would dressing be a more appropriate term?)

My grandmother shared with me the following tips for roasting a chicken:
  • Salt the bird inside and outside.
  • Put half of a smaller onion, half a lemon, and a short celery stalk inside the bird's cavity.
  • Dot the skin of the chicken with pieces of cold butter, and sprinkle with desired dried or fresh herbs (a little rosemary goes a long way here...)
  • Roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes per pound. After cooking for required time, tent breast meat with foil and continue to cook until the dark meat reaches an internal temp of at least 170 degrees and the juices run clear--no pink. (Chefs cook to 165, the recommended temp is 180. I find that to be a little on the dry side.)
  • Allow the chicken to rest in the pan for 10 minutes or so.
  • Remove the chicken from the roasting pan and place the pan over a stove burner, turn it on medium. Add water a little white cooking wine and scrape the bottom to deglaze the pan. Pour the pan juices into a bowl through a strainer. After the juices settle, you can use a baster to remove the clear layer from the top--this is the fat. Alternate you can place the bowl in the fridge and remove the solidified fat later. (In the above picture, I hadn't deglazed the pan yet.)
  • You can serve the glaze as 'gravy', add some glaze to the recipe below for flavor, AND save some for another recipe. (Why do just one option?)

In the mean time, prepare the Spinach-Rice stuffing, also a recipe from my grandmother. This was originally from an old cookbook called Sunset Favorite Recipes II, but Grandma replaced the water chestnuts with mushrooms (a wonderful substitution as I detest water chestnuts) and I made my own modifications.

  • 1 cup brown basmati rice (or if you have 2 cups cooked rice, you can skip Step 1)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 8 oz package sliced mushrooms
  • 6-12 oz fresh spinach leaves (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook rice separately as you normally would. (I like to cook mine in chicken broth or stock, and/or add a few tablespoons of the pan juices from the roasted chicken above). I remove a portion of cooked rice before continuing to serve to my kids, who despise this recipe.
2. Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet. Add onion and celery, cook several minutes. Add mushrooms, spreading them out to cook evenly. When mushrooms are browned, add spinach, stirring frequently, and remove pan from heat when spinach is wilted.
3. Add rice, rosemary, salt, and pepper to spinach mixture.

After serving the meal, debone and shred the remaining chicken meat, and perhaps use it for a nice chicken salad. Use the carcass to make Chicken Bone Soup--also a recipe from my grandmother.

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