Cooking Connection: Stuffed Chicken

Goodlifer: Cooking Connection: Stuffed Chicken

At first every thing seems fine. You may not even realize it. You go to meetings. You smile. Now and then, they ask your opinion or for your help with some seemingly benign task. And you help out. Of course you help out. I mean that’s what you’re being paid for… and after all no one ever told you this would happen. One morning you come in and all of your office mail has been thrown away and there’s a strange smell coming from your desk. Suddenly you realize your new boss has been having you work on projects primarily designed to embarrass and disgrace her rivals and now you’re in the middle of a big fight. You weren’t there when it began. You don’t even know what side everyone is really on, but now you’ve gotta save your skin.

We all trip into office squabbles on our first job. Sad thing is, they never go away. My friend Robert, who I’ve known since grad school took a new a job in August teaching at a small liberal arts college in Ohio. At first, I was humored by his frequent stories of department meetings melting down into shouting matches — an older faculty member even displaying a habit for throwing books and walking out early. But by November, I started working about Robert. He was anxious, edgy and always seemed to be miserable. Our once upbeat friendship descended into long venting sessions that often left the both of us berating our profession or occasionally the human race at large.

Talking to my sister about the problem, she reminded me of a temper tantrum I threw when I was six. My grandmother had convinced me, against great protest, to take a nap. I hated naps and very rarely let myself fall asleep. When I woke from my rare nap and realized that I had missed Scooby-Doo, I blew my top. Marching downstairs with a sack of toys, I announced, “I’m running away.”

Very calmly my grandmother responded, “Well, if you’re leaving you’ll need to eat before you go.”

That seemed sensible to me. So I set the table, while she cooked. By the time dinner was over, I went upstairs to bed — exhausted, my tantrum evaporated.

Convinced I had the answer for Robert’s problem, “Do you really think they can sit around a table, drinking wine and eating dinner and still yell?”

He laughed, “Well, probably not. I think you’d feel silly yelling in that kind of environment about class schedules.” Robert had his success! Their meeting is in mid-April and I anxiously look forward to hearing about the evening. Here’s a recipe that I recommended to Robert.

Gigotines de poulet farcies a la sarriette (or basically de-boned and stuffed chicken leg quarters).

This is what you need:

Chicken leg quarters (1-2 per person)
1 chicken breast
Carrot
Celery rib
One onion
One egg
2-3 Shallots
1-2 cloves of garlic
salt & pepper
3 Tbs of oil (peanut, hazelnut, etc)
1 Leek
Nutmeg
Herbs (Thyme or Tarragon and Chevil)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Get as many chicken leg quarters as you need. One per person should do it, but two can be good if you’re pigging out. This has the taste and satisfaction of comfort food without the heaviness. Once you have your leg quarters, grab the bone of the thigh and hold the leg quarter by that bone. Using a pairing knife, cut the flesh away from the bone being careful to preserve the chicken as one piece. Once the bone is freed from the flesh, twist it at the joint to break the thigh bone away from the leg.

Salt and pepper the legs and toss them into a glass dish. Place them in the fridge while you do the rest.

Cut up two-three shallots, one-two cloves of garlic, and a leek, place in a bowl.

Cut up an onion, celery rib, and a carrot and place in separate bowl.

In a frying pan cook one diced chicken breast in three tablespoons of peanut or hazelnut oil until browned. Add the shallots/garlic/leek and cook over medium heat for ten or fifteen minutes.

Once browned remove your pan from the heat and add your herbs. You can use thyme or Tarragon and Chevil. Use no more than a tsp of each. Let the pan sit on a cool burner for five to ten minutes. Mix in an egg. Add a tsp of nutmeg. You now have a stuffing.

Now get your chicken legs out of the fridge and place them in a shallow stoneware dish. Stuff the thighs with the stuffing. Only add enough of the stuffing to replace the bone. Lay the chicken stuffing side down in the dish and cover lightly with one cup of water. Now pour the carrot/celery/onion mixture over the top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake. After fifty minutes remove the foil and put back into the oven for twenty minutes. You now have a homey, but not heavy meal that seems equally suited for movie night, candle light discussion, or peace making!

About author
Alexander Hogan occupies his days teaching and conducting research as a professor of political science. Like many of us, he searches for the balance and peace in a hectic, materialistic world. He is a passionate home chef and foodie who resides with his wife and impressive house plant collection in Houston, Texas.
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  1. Sarriette means winter savory, so that’s the herb that should go in the stuffing. If you can’t find it, thyme would be a good, albeit milder, substitute. This is an old Provencal recipe that my mother would often cook for Sunday dinners after a family outing in the countryside picking wild herbs. you certainly brought back yummy memories! Thanks!

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