A wonderful stuffed chicken. The chicken roasted for a Pugliese Sunday lunch will be a plump, young farmyard bird, a pollo ruspante, or ‘free-range’ chicken. The stuffing speaks decisively of the Italian South and could be adapted for use with capons or even a small, fresh, free-range turkey. Slip a few slivers of garlic and some parsley leaves beneath the skin of the breast to make a handsome presentation. If the chicken you buy comes without giblets, buy a few chicken livers to add to the stuffing.
- One 4 1/2- to 5-pound free-range roasting chicken with giblets
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup plain unflavored bread crumbs, preferably freshly grated
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped capers
- 1/4 cup finely minced flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 ounces Genoa salami, finely chopped
- 1 large egg
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 8 whole leaves flat-leaf parsley
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup dry white wine, at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons for deglazing
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the giblets from the chicken and set the bird on a rack in a roasting pan. Tuck the gizzard in a corner of the pan; it will add to the flavor of the pan juices.
Chope the liver and heart as finely as possible (or use about 1/4 pound of chicken livers purchased separately) and place in a small frying pan along with the chopped onion, minced garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Over medium-low heat, saute’ gently until the chicken parts are thoroughly brown and the vegetables are starting to soften. Scrape into a bowl and mix with the bread crumbs, capers, minced parsley, cheese, and salami. Break the egg in a bowl, beat lightly with a fork, then stir into the stuffing mixture, using your hands to blend rapidly. The mixture should be moist but not runny. If necessary, add a little water or a few more bread crumbs to attain the right consistency. Stuff the chicken loosely with the stuffing mixture.
With your fingers, loosen the skin over both sides of the breast meat and gently slide a few slivers of sliced garlic and a few whole parsley leaves into place between the skin and the flesh. Tie the legs loosely over the opening with kitchen twine.
Rub the chicken all over with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 45 minutes, by which time the skin should be nicely brown. Turn down the heat to 350 degrees F. and baste the chicken with 1 cup of the wine. Return to the oven to roast for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, basting with the pan juices every 10 minutes. The chicken is done when the juices around the thigh bone run clear yellow when the leg is pierced with a fork.
Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. While the chicken is resting, pour the pan juices into a measuring cup. Deglaze the pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons wine and add to the juices in the cup. Skim off the fat that rises to the top of the cup (save this flavorful fat, if you wish, for sauteing potatoes). Put the juices in a small saucepan and boil a few minutes to reduce and concentrate the flavors. Serve as a sauce with the chicken.