And I Can Cook, Too

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Times, They Are a Changing

Carol and Louise had completed their overland trek on Tasmania, and were coming home to spend a couple of days getting ready for their camping trip up the coast. I convinced them to let me cook them dinner, and as we enjoyed roast chicken stuffed with apples, onions, dates, and pancetta, and Belgian endive with bleu cheese and homemade breadcrumbs, we caught up. They’d successfully completed a challenging six-day hike in the wild, reunited with old friends, and decided to buy a house in Tasmania. I’d re-learned to ride a bicycle, been in the paper, and gotten myself on the radio. They were planning to take the rest of their vacation, pack up their Larg’s Bay house, ship everything to Tasmania, and move on. I was planning to complete my master’s degree, get over my marriage, figure out what to do with the next forty years, and move on.

We’d better get busy.

Roast Chicken with Apples, Onions, and Date

1 Whole Chicken, innards removed
½ C. Your favorite pate
2 Granny Smith Apples, small diced
1 Sweet Onion, small diced
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
¼ C. Dates, small diced
1/8 C. Combination slivered almonds and pine nuts, or whatever nuts you have on hand or just happen to like best, lightly toasted
1 Oz, Hot Pancetta, or whatever salty cured meat you like
1 Tsp. Dried Sage
6 Slices Bread, preferably stale, really preferably whole grain or at least whole
wheat, diced into ½ inch cubes
1 C. White wine (absolutely under no circumstances should you use an American Chardonnay, they suck
1 Airplane bottle brandy
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Oil of your choosing, or use butter or use cooking spray
To Taste Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Allow the pate to come to room temperature.

Place a large pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta, and render the fat. Remove the meat as it is just becoming crisp. Add the Tbsp. of oil, or coat the pan with the cooking spray. Add the onions and apples, and sauté until the onions are just becoming translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the sage and dates, and sauté two minutes more; add the garlic, and sauté one minute more. Add the wine, and allow to reduce by 3/4th. Add the pancetta and the bread, and gently toss until everything is moist and blended. Taste, and add salt and pepper if desired.

While your stuffing is cooking, place the chicken in a roasting pan. Using a sharp knife, make one small slit through the skin over each of the breasts and each of the legs. Using a dull knife, like a dinner knife, pry the chicken skin away from the mean, taking care not to further cut the skin. Stir the pate until it is a soft, mushy consistency. Using a spoon, small spatula, dull knife, fingers, or any other method that works for you, insert the pate into the slits in the chicken skin massaging the skin to work the pate over the meat. Continue this all over the chicken until you’ve used all the pate. If you find that you can’t get it all in, rub the leftovers over the top of the skin. Stuff the cavity of the bird with as much stuffing as you can fit, and tie the legs together with string. Place in the oven and cook for at least an hour, or until the breast meat temperature reaches 165 degrees. While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the brandy and sugar. Allow to bubble for about 10 minutes. Baste the chicken with the brandy butter every fifteen minutes or so, being sure to use it all.

Once you’ve removed the chicken from the over, allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Spoon the stuffing into a bowl, carve the bird, completely change your life, and enjoy!


  • At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Sarah said…

    Fabulous post. So happy that you're so busy on the web


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