Thursday, October 15, 2009

Roasted Chicken with Tuscan Bread Stuffing

Many of my menu decisions are based on what’s in the refrigerator that I want to use up and that’s often leftover herbs. I can’t stand for those expensive little packages of herbs to go to waste (I know, I know, I should just grown my own, but it turns out our resident deer family find herbs just as tasty as my flowers).

We had some sage leftover, which reminded Jeff we hadn’t made this wonderful roast chicken recipe from the fabulous (and fabulously famous) chef Daniel Boulud since last spring when the weather was still cool enough to make us crave this dish. And crave it we do. With it’s wonderful aromas of sage and Prosciutto wafting through the house while the chicken roasts, it’s the definition of comfort food for a chilly day.

This recipe is adapted from Daniel Boulud’s wonderful Café Boulud Cookbook. He may be French, but he can whip up an Italian-inspired dish to make your mouth water in anticipation.

The only tricky thing about this dish is getting the stuffing under the skin, but don’t skip this part because as the chicken roasts the flavors from the onions, garlic, herbs and prosciutto “perfume” the chicken as Chef Boulud says.
 Roasted Chicken with Tuscan Bread Stuffing

Serves 4
2 slices white bread, crusts removed
2 tbls. unsalted butter
½ onion, diced
3 gloves garlic, minced
2 oz. Prosciutto, diced
5 sage leaves, diced
2 tbls. parsley, diced
1 tbls. rosemary, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cup herb-seasoned stuffing (like Pepperidge Farm)

3 ½-4 lb. chicken, rinse and dried
2 tbls. olive oil
2 tbls. unsalted butter, melted
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and center a rack in oven.
Put the bread on the rack in the oven and bake for 5 minutes until slightly dried. When bread’s cooled, cut into ¼ cubes.
In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tbls. butter over medium heat, add onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until onions are translucent, but not colored, about 5 minutes. Add the prosciutto and cook for 2 minutes, and then stir in bread crumbs (smells heavenly at this point!). When the bread is blended, fold in herbs and season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining tbls. of butter into mixture, remove from heat and let cool. Prepare additional 1 and 1/2 cup of herb stuffing from box as directed (add onion, but no celery) and set aside.
Sensationally Scented Stuffing Mixture

Reheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a wire tack in a roasting pan.
In order to get the stuffing under the chicken’s skin, carefully separate the skin from body, using your fingers. Dip your fingers in a bit of olive oil and rub it under the all of skin and flesh (this will help spread the stuffing under the skin). Press the stuffing over the breasts, legs, and neck as far as you can. Get as much stuffing as you can under the skin.  Mix any leftover Tuscan stuffing with the herb stuffing and put in the cavity of the chicken. Pull the nick skin as taut as you can and tuck it under the chick; pull the belly skin and tuck it between the legs. Cross the legs and truss with string. The chicken will lumpy, bumpy, and plump—and that’s perfect!
Lumpy, Bumpy and Ready to Roast

Place chicken in the roasting pan and brush with half of the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes, basting twice with the remaining butter. Continue to roast the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes (cooking time will depending on size of chicken), basting every two more times. If chicken is getting too dark, cover with aluminum foil.  Remove chicken and let rest for 10 minutes.

Carve and serve chicken with something green, zucchini or string beans work well.

Gustare il cibo!

Tips and Tidbits
Daniel Boulud's original recipe calls for rustic bread, but we've discovered it doesn't make much difference as long as it is white bread (we've been known to use leftover hamburger buns).
The original recipe does not call for stuffing in the chicken cavity but we add extra to the cavity to have enough stuffing to feed four or have enough for two dinners for us. We have tried doubling the stuffing with prosciutto but found that it was too salty and hammy, so to speak. Any boxed stuffing will do, just follow the directions and add some lightly cooked onions (no celery).


  1. Yum, this sounds delicious. I am printing out all of your recipes which will make for one terrific cookbook. Thank you, Maggie and Jeff!

  2. Trying this tonight! I'm going to throw some potatoes and carrots in the pan to roast along side - and server the butter lettuce salad from one of your other recipes! I'll let you know how it turns out.

  3. OK - first mistake - I didn't catch the bit about the cubed bread becoming bread crumbs and the cubes hit the pan before I saw the photo...oh well, I shoved the cubes under the skin anyway...second mistake - I usually hit my chickens with a hot oven (425 or so) for the first ten minutes, and then lower the temp to 350, so instead of following the recipe, I did this. When I turned the oven down, the skin was super browned where the stuffing was. I covered the chicken with foil but the stuffing ended up a bit carmelized...not a bad thing, and although the flavors didn't infuse the chicken, damn it was good anyway...(I did not stuff the inside of the chicken because I had a time issue)...After I put the chicken in the oven, I cut up some purple and red potatoess and parsnips in wedges, tossed with whole baby carrots in some olive oil, salt and rosemary, and threw it all into the roasting pan. When the chicken was done, I removed it from the oven and turned the oven up to 425 and cooked the veggies until a bit browned while the chicken rested for about 10 minutes. All in all, a delicious spite of my goofs!