Monday, January 10, 2011

Alternative to Turkey and Stuffing

First off, let me apologize. Lately, this blog has been bread/pastry and meat-centered meals heavy. I know. This wasn't my intent when starting this blog. However, lately, I've been using lots of recipes from my blog to use my veggies. I've been entertaining a little more than usual (yippee!!) and have made meat-centered dishes. Bear with me as I present a few more meat-centered dishes. Really, I'll find some veggie dishes soon.

We stayed at our house this year for Christmas. It was fabulous. For dinner, we had Curtis's parents over. There was only 7 of us (including the 3 kids). In my family, turkey or ham is the customary Christmas dinner. I didn't want something as much work as turkey, especially since Curtis is not a fan, and a ham seemed too expensive. I was excited to find this recipe in my Perfect One-Dish Dinners Cookbook. It provided us with our poultry with white and dark meat for all of us and our dressing. My only complaint was that it made way too much for the 7 of us. We managed to finish all the chicken (thanks to cooking it off the bone and making broth with some of it), but the dressing we weren't able to finish before its time had expired. However, it was the perfect meal for a small, festive gathering without too much work involved.

A note on the recipe: Start drying out your breadcrumbs a day before you want to make this. You can also saute the sausage and vegetables the day before assembling everything as well to free up time to spend with your guests (if you are having guests). Allow yourself an hour of baking/resting time in addition to time to mix things together.

By my estimates, this will easily serve 8 - 10, especially if there are additional side dishes.

Festive Roast Chicken and Stuffing
adapted slightly from Perfect One-Dish Dinners

For the dressing:
10 - 12 c 1/2" bread cubes from dense crusty French or Italian bread (one large loaf, a couple of smaller ones)
2 c bread crumbs, homemade preferable (to make homemade bread crumbs, process dry bread in food processor until there are fine crumbs)
1 1/2 t dried basil
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t ground fennel
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 lb bulk mild Italian sausage
2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 c)
3 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 c)
1 1/2 c golden raisins
1/2 c parsley, minced
2 large eggs
1 quart chicken broth

For the chicken:
1 T basil
1 T oregano
1 T salt
2 t pepper
2 t fennel seeds
1 1/2 t orange zest, finely grated
2 T olive oil
8 lbs of bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces: I think I used 3 lbs of split chicken breasts (protruding rib bones and fat trimmed), 3 lbs of chicken legs, and 3 lbs of chicken thighs

Spread bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet and let dry several hours or overnight.

Bake bread cubes on the center rack of a preheated 400 degrees oven until golden brown, 12 -1 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage, stirring frequently to break up, until sausage loses its pink color. Add onions and celery to pan and continue to cook until vegetables are soft and sausage is fully cooked, 7 - 8 minutes. (If making ahead of time, stop here). Transfer to large bowl and mix with bread cubes, bread crumbs, raisins, parsley, 1 1/2 t basil, 1 1/2 t oregano, 1/4 t fennel, 3/4 t salt, and 1/2 t peppers. In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs and chicken broth together and pour over stuffing ingredients. Toss to coat and let stand while you prepare the chicken.

Mix together remaining basil, oregano, salt, pepper, fennel, orange zest and oil in a small bowl. Smear mixture over both sides of all the chicken pieces. Heat large skillet (can use the same one you used for the sausage) with a some olive oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add chicken in batches, being careful not to overcrowd pan. Cook until chicken is nicely browned, then turn and cook the other side. Remove and set aside until all chicken is browned.

In a large roasting pan, place the sausage/bread mixture. Top with the chicken, skin side up. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven on a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Bake uncover, until skin is attractively browned and fully cooked, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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