As far back as I can remember in my cooking and baking days I was always fascinated with the idea of cooking a whole chicken! In my teenage years, it was during the Durga Puja Festivals one year when I had planned on making the famous Mughlai dish the “Murgh Mussallam” which literally means “whole chicken”. As everyone will remember in those days’ information was not as easily available as now. So it took a lot of effort in my part to search for a do-able recipe but due to some unfortunate turn of events, I never got around to making it.
Fast forward 10 years and it was my first job posting in Jaipur, Rajasthan where a sweet neighbor of mine had gone to a great deal of trouble to prepare Murgh Mussallam for a New Year house party and I observed her labouring over the whole chicken for quite some time! And how we ate at that New Year’s party is a different gastronomical story altogether! Now I’m back to my hometown Kolkata and it was the festive month of December when my past urge to cook a whole chicken returned with a gusto. This time I was very determined to not only bake the whole chicken but stuff it too! So my search for the perfect recipe began.
I found that the internet is flooded with lots of information and recipes of stuffed roast chicken but I could not find the one which suited me perfectly. I took a different approach and began to make my own recipe. In this journey, I have been inspired by several recipes on different websites including ChristinasCucina(https://www.christinascucina.com/rosemary-citrus-roast-chicken-overnight/) and Allrecipes(https://www.allrecipes.com/). This recipe can be divided into three main parts the marinade, the stuffing and the main process of baking/roasting the chicken. This is a fairly simple and easy recipe but it requires some pre-planning and lots of patience!
I made this much awaited stuffed chicken roast as a pre-Christmas treat on the weekend before Christmas. Now it might seem to be a fairly intimidating dish to pull off. But believe me when I say this you will simply blow people away with the awesomeness of this golden and crispy skinned chicken with soft juicy meat and stuffing which is great to eat even by itself! The most important thing that is required on this recipe is Courage. If you have that you will just sail through this recipe and your family will be kissing your hands and licking their fingers!
Preparation time: 30 minutes (excluding overnight marination time)
Baking/Roasting Time: 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min.
For the Marinade you will need:
- Juice of 1 orange,
- Juice and zest of 1 Gondhoraj* Lebu/Lime,
- Juice of 1 lemon,
- Slices of Gondhoraj Lebu/Lime,
- 8 to 10 cloves of peeled garlic,
- Salt (To taste)
- Freshly crushed black pepper (To taste)
- Dried rosemary (1 tbsp)
- 1 whole Chicken (1 kg) with the skin and its innards cleaned.
For the stuffing you will need:
- Bread Cubes=4 cups.
- 1 medium-sized red onion chopped.
- 2 sticks of leek /spring onions 5 to 6 chopped.
- Fresh Button Mushroom’s 8 to 10 diced.
- 6 to 7 Walnut’s chopped
- Dried Cranberries
- Chopped celery and coriander leaves = 1 sprig of each
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- 1 Dried Bay Leaf/ Tez patta
- ½ tbsp Brown sugar
- Salt (To taste)
- Freshly crushed Black Pepper (To taste)
- Butter Cubes 1 cup(100gm)
- Melted Butter or olive oil 1/ 4 cup for basting
- Honey 2 tbsp
- Mixing Bowls, mixing spoons, roasting tin/tray
- 1 piece of thick bread end.
- Start by first washing and cleaning the chicken thoroughly. Be careful that you wash the inner parts and the skin very well.
- Then pat dry the chicken with a paper towel.
- Take a large bowl (glass/ plastic) and mix all the ingredients of the marinade i.e the orange juice, gondhoraj lebu/lime juice and zest, lemon juice, crushed garlic pods, salt, pepper and rosemary.
- Coat the chicken with the marinade. Pull the skin slightly and push in few pods of crushed garlic below the skin randomly. In the inner cavity of the chicken put the lime/ gandhoraj lebu wedges and crushed garlic pods and make sure the marinade is well coated in the inside as well.
- Seal the bowl with cling film and put into the refrigerator at least overnight. I marinated the chicken for 24 hours. Do not forget to turn the chicken over at least once during the marination period.
- When you are ready to roast the chicken remove it from the refrigerator at least 2 hrs prior to cooking it. Remove lemon/ lime wedges from the inner cavity.
- Rub butter cubes on the entire outer surface of and push in few of the cubes underneath the skin.
- For the stuffing, melt butter in a pan and add the bay leaf. Add the chopped onions and fry till translucent. Then add the mushrooms, leek, celery and cook at high flame until soft. Mix in the bread cubes and fry. Beat the egg and add it into the mixture at a low flame and mix well. Add the milk and increase the flame and keep stirring. When the mixture is dry add the chopped walnuts, cranberries, salt, pepper, and chopped coriander and remove from heat.
- It is important to remember that you should not cool the stuffing and spoon it directly into the cavity of the prepared chicken.
- You can sew the cavity of the chicken shut with twine or a thick thread. But I used an easier hack. Just wedge the end tough piece of bread at the opening of the chicken cavity pushing in the stuffing. Don’t worry if it is a bit loose.
- Sprinkle some salt and freshly crushed black pepper on the chicken.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F or 230°C.
- Place the chicken on a low rack over a roasting tray and bake at 230°C for 15 minutes.
- Then reduce the temperature to 375°F or 180°C and bake for 1 hour.
- It is important to remember that in every 15 minutes have to baste the chicken i.e brush the entire surface with the remnant marinade and melted butter. This will help to keep the chicken soft and moist.
- At the 45 minute mark turn the chicken around to get even browning of all the surfaces
- For the last basting of the chicken, you can mix some honey with the melted butter and brush the chicken with the mixture. This will give the loveliest caramelized golden brown roast chicken ever.
- After 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes the chicken will be cooked thoroughly.
- Carve the chicken with a sharp knife and serve with toast(optional) and roast potatoes
- At the end, my roasted chicken had caramelized golden brown crispy skin with very juicy, tender flesh and yummy scrumptious stuffing inside.