The second dish, though it’s equally cheap and good, takes a bit longer to fix. It’s a simple roast chicken with a stuffing of my own devising. The neat thing about it is that you put a nicely browned roast chicken on the table in front of admiring guests none of whom realize you’ve already had your meal one better than they’re about to partake of though that one ain’t bad either.
First off, make the stuffing. Toast the oatmeal bread about medium brown. When it pops up, let it sit in the toaster for a few minutes to dry out. Chop the scallions into pieces about 1/4-to 1/2-inch long.
Slice the button mushrooms or cut them into quarters if they’re small. Chop the parsley roughly. Cut the dried toast into pices about 1/2 inch square. Put all these goodies into a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and mix well. Salt the stuffing to taste. Use pepper too if you like it. I sometimes also add Bell’s Poultry Seasoning.
At this point I reserve some of the stuffing maybe a quarter or a third and add the chopped giblets to it as I find that a lot of folks don’t like them in the stuffing, hard as that may be to grasp. But it works out good for me, as you’ll see. After the chicken is washed and dried, stuff the critter with the stuffing from the non-gibletted bowl.
Back when I developed this dish when I didn’t know how to cook I took the word at it’s face value and *stuffed* the stuffing into the body cavity. Since then I’ve heard that it’s considered good form to stuff it loosely to allow for expansion. Don’t listen to these lies.
Stuff that sucker full!
Heat the oven to between 350F and 400F. Rub the chicken with butter and salt it. Put the stuffed chicken, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a pan of some sort with sides about an inch or so high a big pyrex cake pan works well. I use one of those racks with the adjustable sides to hold the bird in place though anything will work except a vertical roaster.
Now here’s where the sly part comes in. Have a fork or a pair of chopsticks handy. I recommend chopsticks if you can use them.
You’ll see why in a minute. Take the gibletted dressing and pack it all over the surface of the chicken, patting it into place. Put the neck where you can reach it to baste it. Dot the stuffing generously with pats of butter. (This ain’t health food…) Put the bird into the oven and close the door. Don’t look for about fifteen minutes or so. Chat. Entertain your guests. Pour them some more wine.
After fifteen minutes you, as the cook, will be ready to begin one of the best meals of your life while your guests sit unsuspecting, waiting for the bird to be done. When the time has elapsed, start basting with a bulb baster. Do this regularly and religiously every five to ten minutes or so. Salt occasionally. The stuffing and giblets on top of the chicken will start to brown as you baste it with the flavor laden combo of butter and chicken juices. The toast bits will get crispy. The scallions will add their luscious juices to the basting liquid. The mushrooms will steam and beckon. Soon you’ll be picking off the browner bits and savoring them. Each time you open the oven, a new selection of bits will be ready for your delectation!
Try to look harried and pained so your guests won’t know how much fun you’re having.
Give them some more wine to keep them quite. Have a little yourself.
Maybe serve a salad or something… If any of them get suspicious, tell them you’re ‘adjusting the seasonings’. That should throw them off the track enough that none of them will be tempted to ‘help’ you with that arduous task. Heh, heh, heh…
As you gradually clear the stuffing off the surface of the chicken the skin will begin to brown too. Keep basting! The chopsticks come in real handy now for retrieving the bits of mushrooms, giblets and whatever that fall down under the rack. They can get in where it’s hard to get a fork. The dish is done when all the stuffing coating the outside of the bird is in your stomach and the skin has turned a nice, crispy, savory golden brown. Take the chicken out, put it on the serving platter and de-stuff it. Serve with rolls, salads, veggies, mashed taters and gravy (made of course, with instant mashed potatoes) whatever your guests like or whatever strikes your fancy.
You won’t care. You’ll already be full! I generally polish off a leg and a wing or so just for appearance’s sake though. Oh yeah and I always make the ’sacrifice’ and take the perfectly roasted, crispy skinned neck so my guest won’t have to suffer through it…
Two cautions. One about the stuffing. I love it, but it won’t taste like traditional stuffings. It will be redolent of mushrooms, parsley and scallions, very moist and to my taste quite nice. I really like the taste of oatmeal bread. Using other bread, you’d probably have to spiff up the seasonings a bit. The other caution is do not use garlic! Heresy, I know, to some folks, but I tried it and it disrupted the nice balance of flavors.
For folks who like crispy skin, all the basting produces an excellent skin full of flavor and crispy. Good stuff a meal in itself.
Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; August 25 1992.