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October 2008 Issue
Last Night's Dinner
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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I was extremely excited about last night's dinner. Friday we'd unexpectedly decided to go up to Tottenham for the evening to visit my best friend LadyDi on the occasion of her daughter Krystal's birthday.

Venturing out to that part of the world from where we live now is always a trek, but , though we don't do it often, we really do enjoy it. Begs the question "why don't we do it more often?" doesn't it? Especially when Di almost always sends us home with goodies.

You see, LadyDi and Uncle Harry have a huge house with an indoor pool, on acres and acres, on a pretty side road in "the country". While they don't farm it themselves (they lease the land to a local farmer); they do raise their own chickens and turkeys. And they always have farm fresh eggs.

It's no exaggeration when I tell you that LadyDi's birds are the moistest, most tasty, largest birds you're ever going to meet. I'm not sure how she does it so consistently, but year after year there's just no competition out there. If you can't have a LadyDi bird, well, around our place Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner just isn't the same.

But enough about all that. This past Friday, Diana sent me home with TWO of her chickens and two dozen farm fresh eggs AND a liter of good Greek olive oil. This last was courtesy of her mom, via a friend of a friend.

Diana's chickens, like her turkeys, are larger than the average size. Each of the chickens I brought home was over three kilograms. That's seven pounds if you aren't metrically inclined!!!

They went into the freezer as soon as we got home, but they were calling to me. So I gave in on Saturday and took one out to let it defrost for Sunday dinner. Oh my, what a dinner that was!!! I wish I had pictures to share, but I always remember to photograph AFTER the meal's already been eaten.

So, without photographs you'll just have to trust me when I tell you how awesome this chicken looked when it was done. The recipe follows though so you can reproduce the meal. Even without a LadyDi bird, you know it's going to make a great Sunday (or any day) dinner!!!

 

LadyDi's Chicken with Stuffing

For the stuffing:
  • 2 large potatoes, diced
  • ½ cup red rice
  • A bit more than one cup of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • ½ medium Vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Good handful of parsley, minced
  • 2 inch piece of kielbasa, sliced into small match sticks
First sauté the kielbasa till browned, remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl and add the diced potatoes to the pan. Allow to cook until the potatoes are starting to become golden and remove to the bowl with the kielbasa. Now add a knob of butter to the pan and sauté the shallots, garlic and sweet onion until translucent, add the rice and stir so that everything is well coated in the butter and slowly add hot stock until the rice is almost cooked through. This should take a bit more than one cup of stock. When cooked, add rice mixture to the potato mixture and stir well to combine. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

For the pan:

Assemble and wash well the following:

  • 3 ribs of celery
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 5 shallots
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 2 medium green cubanelle peppers
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium red ripe tomatoes
  • about a dozen mushrooms
Dice all of the above so that they are fairly uniform in size (about an inch or so cubed) and place in the bottom of a good size roasting pan (mine is 10 x 15 and about three inches deep) and add:
  • five cloves of garlic that you've minced finely
  • a handful of parley, also minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp of dried thyme that you've rubbed in the palm of your hand (to release the flavours)
  • four sprigs of fresh rosemary
I like to run my fingers along the sprig in the opposite direction of how the leaves grow so as to have the leaves loose in the mixture but you don't need to do this. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over all and stir well to combine.

Putting it all together:

Rinse the chicken and dry it well inside and out, then season the inside of it with salt and pepper generously. Fill the cavity loosely with the stuffing, truss it, and season the outside of the chicken generously as well. Drizzle 2 more tablespoons of olive oil over the breast of the chicken, cover loosely with foil and place in the centre of an oven that's been preheated to 450 degrees.

After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 375 and allow to cook for 20 more minutes. Reduce the heat once more to 350 and continue cooking for one hour. After one hour, remove the foil covering and let it roast for 30 minutes more until it's nicely golden brown and the juices run clear. I usually "shake hands" with a drum stick and when it's loose and comfy, the bird's ready.

 

Last night, Sunday, I served this with steamed red rice and fried banana peppers. Usually I would puree the pan vegetables to use as gravy but this time Larry asked me not to. We still used them in place of gravy but because they were still in chunks, it was like having another side dish as well.

Chicken, stuffing and pan vegetables. THIS is what Sunday dinner is all about!!!

Matthew arrives home this Saturday morning!!! He'll be with us for only 15 days but we intend to enjoy every moment of it. I'll have all kinds of tales of his visit for you next month, and I'm sure some great recipes too. TTFN!!!



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