Roast Chicken with Cherry Walnut Stuffing

Yum

There are few things more comforting than Roast Chicken.  The smell of it wafting through the air on a Sunday after church is enough to take you right back to childhood and Grandma’s kitchen.  And when you combine it with a gorgeous, deliriously delicious cherry walnut stuffing, you might just have yourself a new favorite that is easy enough for everyday, and impressive enough for a holiday entree.

What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Roast Chicken with Cherry Walnut Stuffing

(adapted from my Cornish Game Hens recipe)

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, rinsed and cavity dried

1 onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 tbsp. butter or margarine

3 cups fully cooked white rice

3/4 cup dried cherries (may substitute craisins)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

3 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. lemon juice (roughly the juice from 1 lemon)

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Vegetable oil and additional salt/pepper for finishing chicken

Directions:

Saute onion and celery in the butter until vegetables are softened and translucent.  Remove the vegetables from the heat and stir together with cooked white rice, dried cherries, walnuts, honey, lemon juice, and spices.  Rinse chicken and dry the cavity and skin with paper towels.  Stuff chicken with the rice stuffing and tie legs together with baker’s twine.  *Note: When you stuff the chicken, place about 1.5 cups of stuffing into a separate bowl so that your “inside the bird” stuffing is not cross contaminating the leftover stuffing.  Place remaining stuffing into a greased 8×8 inch baking pan, covered tightly with foil. Bake leftover stuffing, covered, during the last 45 minutes of baking time just to warm it.  Serve alongside chicken.

Place stuffed chicken into greased roasting pan and pour in enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.  Drizzle a little oil over the top of the chicken, rubbing the oil in with your fingers.  Sprinkle the top of the chicken with salt and pepper and bake uncovered at 350, basting every half hour, until a meat thermometer inserted at the thigh reads 165 degrees (roughly 20 minutes per pound).  Baking time should be based on the thermometer reading, but it generally takes about 1.5-2 hours to bake the chicken and crisp the skin.  Allow finished chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes, lightly tented with foil, before carving.

Now, in pictures 🙂

I love roast chicken.  It is like a gift from the comfort food gods . . . the smell of onions and celery sauteing in butter, the scent of the skin crackling away, making the heavenly scent of roasting chicken waft through the house like the spirits of a thousand grandmothers . . . it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Even the preparation is a gift.  Start out by sauteing your onions and celery in butter in a medium saucepan.  Mmmmmmmmm.  Let that cook away.

Now let’s get your rice cooking.  Hint: spray the bottom of your pan with cooking spray before you start, and that way you won’t get the “flooring made out of rice” that you can’t scrape out when you try to wash this pan. You’re welcome.  Rice takes about 20 minutes to cook fully, so while your ingredients are shaking and baking YOU can do amazing things and take over the world.

Or, you know. Watch Netflix that isn’t cartoons, for once.  You’re welcome.  Just hide the remote.  Dora WILL find you.  Don’t ask me how I know this.

And because you have amazing taste, you sip tea out of your John Wayne mug, and add a little white cooking wine to your sauteing onions.  Just add maybe 1/4 cup or so.  Mmmmmm.  Smell that.  Smells like magic.

And it is. Ohhhhhh, my dear, it is.

Your rice should finish cooking just about the time that your onions and celery become nice and translucent.  Go ahead and mix the cooked rice into your onion/celery mixture.  Squeeze in the juice from one lemon.  Think deep thoughts.  And goodness don’t touch your eyes after handling lemons.  Also, don’t ask me how I know that.

Next, add in your dried cherries, seasoning, honey, and walnuts.  I’ll be honest.  I have a weakness for cherries.  And I may or may not have eaten an embarrassing number of these little delights while I added them.  Don’t tell the food thievery police.

Stir everything together.  Isn’t that pretty? Where is the heart eye emoji when I need it?

Now, for this part, you will need a nice generous roasting pan.  Any pan will work, but I’m using a Le Creuset braiser.  The BEST PAN EVER.  You know all about my love affair with Le Creuset.  But this braiser was a gift from a friend, and I adore it.  It’s just the right size to be a deep frying pan, a baking pan for a generous batch of cinnamon rolls, and, of course, it doubles as a wondrous roasting pan.

Spray your braiser lightly with cooking spray and place your chicken, breast side up, into the pan.  Place about 1.5 cups of stuffing into a separate bowl (so that you don’t cross contaminate the remaining stuffing with the batch that touches the raw bird) and stuff the cavity with the rice mixture.

Place the reserved stuffing into a greased 8×8 baking pan and cover it tightly with foil.  I put this in the fridge and just throw it in the oven (well, not throw. We didn’t have that bad of a day) during the last 45 minutes or so of the chicken’s baking.  It’s cooked so it just needs to be heated up to make a nice side dish when you serve the chicken, itself.

Drizzle vegetable oil overtop of the chicken skin and rub the oil all over the top, sides, and crevices of the bird.

And now, for goodness sake, give that chickie some dignity. HUSSY!!!  Tie her legs closed with baker’s twine.

Roast Chicken with Cherry Walnut Stuffing

Bake the chicken at 350 degrees for roughly 1.5/2 hours.  A good rule of thumb is to bake for 20 minutes per pound, but the real test is using a meat thermometer in the crease between the chicken thigh and breast.  When your temperature registers 165 degrees, your chicken is done.

Baste your chicken (bathe with pan juices) every 1/2 hour or so. That just helps the meat to stay moist.  My chicken normally gets perfect, crispy skin without being covered, but if yours starts to look a little too brown before the chicken is finished, just cover it loosely with foil toward the end of the roasting time to ensure that the skin doesn’t get too dark.

Roast Chicken with Cherry Walnut Stuffing

When the chicken registers at least 165 degrees, remove your BEEYOOOOTIFUL bird from the oven.  Croon a love song to it.  “How beautiful you are, my love.”  Let the glorious, golden brown chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before carving to let the juices recirculate.

Roast Chicken with Cherry Walnut Stuffing

Serve the chicken on a bed of fresh herbs, with the extra rice on the side.  That rice is just so gorgeous, studded with jeweled fruit and glorious toasted walnuts.  The kiss of citrus . . . the cinnamon and honey.  Oh my goodness. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

Well, unless I could have seconds?  Please?

You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.


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