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Tuscan Wood-Roasted Chicken with Porcini & Sausage Rice Stuffing

 Tuscan Wood-Roasted Chicken with Porcini & Sausage Rice Stuffing

I usually roast a chicken every ten days or so, because Elise loves it so much and we like to have some cooked chicken in the fridge. I usually do a straight roast, with the cavity stuffed with garlic cloves, herbs and a forked lemon, in an open roaster pan in the oven. Pan juices, some potatoes or rice and a vegetable and we have nice Sunday dinner.

Last month Kevin over at Seriously Good made a Tuscan Chicken dish, based on  recipe he picked up on a trip to Italy. It looked mighty good to me so I decided to make Kevin's dish the starting point for a Tuscan-inspired chicken of my own, with the chicken to be roasted on an outdoor grill over a live fire. Kevin's preparation involves marinating chicken breast meat in wine, lemon juice, oil and herbs and then sautéing the chicken and making a sauce from the reserved marinade. He served it with a mushroom rice pilaf, which sounded to me to be the perfect accompaniment.

My version keeps the marinade pretty much as Kevin did it, except that I marinated the whole chicken and then stuffed it with a porcini/sausage/rice stuffing. Then I roasted it over a charcoal and hardwood fire and made a sauce from the marinade, similar to Kevin's, but with the addition of the chicken broth that I'd earlier used to soak the porcini and the sautéd giblets.

The results were very satisfying. The lemony garlicky flavor of the marinade stood up to the smokey flavoring the live fire introduced to the chicken and the stuffing, with its herbs, porcini and sausage, made a fine accompaniment. Thanks, Kevin!

6-1/2 lb roasting chicken, giblets reserved

    1 cup white wine
    1 lemon
    1/4 C olive oil
    3 T fresh rosemary, chopped
    3 T fresh thyme, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, peeled, chopped
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp hot sauce

    2 C cooked short-grained rice
    2 links Italian sweet sausage
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 tsp cognac
    2 T fresh thyme, minced
    1 tsp fennel seed, ground
    2 T fresh rosemary, minced
    2 T fresh sage, minced
    1/4 C celery, chopped
    1/2 cup fennel, chopped
    1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
    2 C sodium-free chicken broth
    3 cloves garlic
    1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped
    salt, hot sauce to taste

Rinse the chicken and pierce the flesh deeply with a skewer or carving fork about every inch on the sides and back  of the body, legs and wings. Place in a plastic bag. Juice the lemon and then cut the rind into slices. Mix the marinade ingredients, including the lemon rind, and place in the plastic bag with the chicken. Seal tightly and marinate 8 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.

Make the stuffing. Cut the sausage lengthwise and sauté slowly until just cooked though. Remove from pan, allow to cool, and chop. Place the onions in the pan and add some olive oil if necessary. Sauté on medium heat for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to be translucent. Add celery, fennel and garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or so. Remove from heat and scrape the contents of the pan into a bowl. Set aside.

Heat the chicken broth until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat. Place the mushrooms in the chicken broth to reconstitute for about 15 minutes. Carefully lift the mushrooms from the broth with a slotted spoon and, in a collander, rinse the mushrooms under a sprayer to remove any grit that clings to them. Squeeze the mushrooms in a couple of paper towels to dry them and set aside. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine sieve, taking care not to pour in the last teaspoonful of liquid from the bottom of the container. Set the broth aside.

Combine the sausage, the onion mixture and the mushrooms with the rice and the rest of the stuffing ingredients. Mix well, correct seasoning and set aside.

Drain and reserve the marinade from the chicken. Stuff the chicken with the stuffing (there will be excess stuffing) and close the cavity with a string or skewers.  (Place excess stuffing in an open oven-proof pan or bowl and bake for about an hour at 350º while the chicken is roasting.) Roast the chicken over a charcoal / hardwood fire (see Grill Basics for equipment, procedure and techniques) at about 275º until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 157º. Remove from fire and tighly cover with aluminum foil to rest while you make the sauce.

Make the sauce. Combine the marinade mixture with the mushroom-soaking liquid and reduce by half over medium-high heat. Correct seasoning, strain and set aside.

In the same pan earlier used for the sausage and onion mixture, sauté the giblets quickly over high heat. Remove giblets to a side plate. Deglaze the sauté pan with some of the reduced liquid, then scrape the contents of the pan into the reduced liquid. Chop the giblets and add to the sauce. Purée sauce, then keep warm until service.

To serve. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 160º before serving. Place the chicken on a platter and remove the string or skewers to allow access to the stuffing. Mound the baked stuffing on the platter in front of the chicken. Carve the chicken at table and pass the sauce to the diners.  A nice accompaniment to this, especially in late summer, is a salad with fresh herbs and tomatoes, a glass of crisp Vernaccia di San Gimignano and a crusty loaf of Italian bread.


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You're welcome!

Years ago I knew a cook who _insisted_ on following recipes exactly. Then, when something didn't turn out, he'd get mad at the recipe.

A recipe's just an idea -- that's why you can't copyright one. And of course I started with a recipe I couldn't even read and by the time I last made it I was working entirely on memory.

Which is all to say, your variation sounds better than mine.

Thanks Kevin, for the good words, and for the continuing inspiration I get from your blog...!

Lovely blog: I just subscribed. You are inspiring.

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