Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Andalusian Stuffed Chicken

Sun 4 Nov 2007

I know this is heresy but I find a roast chicken a bit dull. So many people just seem to put the bird in the oven and cook it - no stuffing, no basting. If you talk about Julia Child's roast chicken, basted with cream, or a chicken with a proper stuffing and smothered in butter, then it's an altogether different story. And this is how we ended up cooking the Andalusian stuffed chicken from the newly released Spanish cookery bible, 1080 Recipes.

In this recipe, it's the stuffing that's striking. It's not breadcrumb or meat based. Instead it's made with apples, a fruit I tend to associate more with pork. The stuffing is simple and can be made ahead.

Peel, core and chop about half a kilo of tart apples (we used Granny Smiths). Fry them in some olive oil and then add approximately 150g of chopped Serrano ham, 40g pine nuts, 1 tbsp of chopped parsley and a generous pinch (not too generous) of ground cloves. Continue to fry for a few minutes before adding 175mL of amontillado sherry and 50 mL of anisette. It turned out that anisette was inprocurable so I looked at my not particularly extensive liquor collection, closed my eyes and picked ... grappa. I wouldn't do that again. And I'm on a bit of a mission to track down some anisette. Give it a good stir and then cover, simmering, for about 30 minutes.

When you're ready to cook your chicken, stuff it with the apple mixture and secure the opening (I used toothpicks as skewers, in the absence of a meat needle). If there's any spare liquid, reserve it. Rub the chicken with lard and surround with some quarters of onion. Roast in a 200C oven for 20 minutes, turning once or twice, and then pour over another 175mL of sherry. Cook for a further 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked, basting occasionally.

And then serve.

I rather wanted to try one of the tempting Spanish potato recipes, but Andy insisted on roast potatoes. We also had steamed carrots and broccoli, and the onions that had been cooked with the chicken. The chicken was stunning. The stuffing helps keep the bird really moist and the sherry (and, I suspect, lard) make the skin golden brown and crispy. This is definitely a dish clever enough to serve up for a special occasion.

Two things to keep in mind: make sure you season the stuffing well. The sweet, nutty flavours of the sherry really intensify during cooking and it can taste quite sweet. Also, I bought the Serrano ham in a chunk and then cubed it. I actually think it would be better to buy it finely sliced and then chop the slices: you'd end up with a better distribution of the ham through the stuffing and a more even flavour and texture.

We drank an albariño with the chicken, but due to rather nasty colds, neither of us can report on the wine in question or whether it was a good match!

1080 Recipes is published by Phaidon and retails at £24.95.

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Blogger Andrew said...

Another reference to the book of the moment! I've been having great fun with it myself and was thingking about this very recipe for the coming weekend. Thanks for the tips.

10:09 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

It is indeed the book of the moment! I think the range of dishes is great: too often Spanish food gets pigeonholed as tapas or tortilla!

1:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roast chicken....dull!!!?? Sit in the corner and think about what you've said!

8:18 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Ah, I knew I'd elicit a response like that ... I just meant that if you take the bird and make no effort ... baste it in cream (or sherry) and it's a different ball game!

11:26 pm  

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