Delicious Dish: Comforting roast chicken

Is there anything more comforting on a cold winters Sunday than the smell of a roast stuffed chicken sending out the most wonderful aroma around the house?

Is there anything more comforting on a cold winters Sunday than the smell of a roast stuffed chicken sending out the most wonderful aroma around the house?

With extra herb stuffing oozing out of the both ends of the bird, served with buttered vegetables like carrots or a cauliflower with a nice white sauce with the addition of a little cheddar cheese and the creamiest of mashed potato along with a few roasties..

There are a few things I do when I am cooking that I keep to myself, one of them is making stuffing for a chicken. I do it as I remember it been done and I don’t think anyone will ever change me on that, I remember a batch loaf having all its crusts removed and crumbed by hand then a chopped onion being added along with salt & pepper and a couple of spoons of herbs like parsley & thyme and the dried variety being used if there was no fresh available, then about lb of soft butter being rubbed in and all brought together like you would pastry.

It was stuffed into the chicken and extra was wrapped in a piece of tinfoil or butter paper and put in along side the chicken. Oh what a taste.

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ROAST STUFFED CHICKEN WITH GIBLET GRAVY

1 x 3 - 4 lb/1.5kg – 1.8kg Chicken with giblets

1 Carrot

1 Onion

Salt & Pepper

Bouquet Garni

Stuffing

About 12oz White Bread Crumbs (I use batch loaf with no crusts)

1 Onion, diced

3 tbsp Fresh Chopped Mixed Herbs (parsley, thyme & chives)

3oz Soft Butter

Salt & Pepper

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Crumb the bread and add in all the other ingredients and bring it all together with your hand. Place the chicken giblets (neck, liver, heart & gizzards) in a small saucepan with the carrots, onion & bouquet garni along with a twist of salt & pepper, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour - add more water if it boils off, you will need about 1pint to make the gravy.

Wash out the chicken and dry with kitchen paper, stuff with the stuffing and put a skewer in place to keep the stuffing in, I often cover it with a crust of bread and then put the skin over and stick in the skewer.

Smear some soft butter over the chicken breast and legs, season with salt & pepper. Cover with a butter paper or a piece of tinfoil. Calculate the weight and cook in a hot oven 170 for 20 minutes per lb and 20 minutes over.

I usually just pull back the legs when the cooking time is up and when the juices run clear it’s cooked. To make the gravy, remove the chicken from the roasting tin and skim off some of the fat (you can use it for roast potatoes), add in 1 tbsp of flour and form a roux then pour in the strained giblet stock, bring to a boil and season, you can add more water if it’s too thick, you might need to add a few drops of gravy browning.

The same stuffing can be used to stuff a beef heart or even small sheep’s heart.

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MULTI SEED BROWN BREAD

1lb Coarse Wholemeal

1lb Plain Flour

4oz Wheat Bran

2tsp Bread Soda

2tsp Salt

2oz Melted Butter

1lt Buttermilk

4oz Mixed Seeds, (pumpkin, linseed, sesame & sunflower)

2tbsp Brown Sugar

2tbsp Honey

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I use Odlum’s flour, its great. The sugar and honey is optional, I find most of us like the slight sweetness of the bread. This quantity makes 2 x 2lb loaves of bread.

Sieve the flour, soda, salt, add in the bran, sugar and seeds, make a well in the centre, add in the honey, butter and milk, give a good stir with a wooden spoon. Divide into 2 x 2lb loaf tins which you can grease with butter or a brush of oil, place in a preheated oven for 1 hours at 180, when cooked cool on a wire rack.

Plain soda bread I cook at a higher heat for a shorter time but I find this bread benefits from a lower heat for longer, the crust does not get burnt. Cover with a towel when it comes out of the oven. If you wish you can hold back some of the seeds and sprinkle on top of the raw bread.