What to do if you have approximately 3 cups of delicious ricotta to use? Why, stuff it into something, of course… I chose chicken.
This is a great recipe for super-moist juicy chicken. (Note: I need a replacement word for moist. I hate that word. Shudder) I had the leftovers for lunch today, actually, and it was still tender and not at all dried-out. The ricotta definitely takes a back seat to the chicken in this recipe, which, if you ask me, is a good thing. I hate when one ingredient overwhelms the entire dish. Instead it just deepens the flavor of the dish without making the chicken feel heavy. It’s like chicken with the volume turned up… to a nice smooth beat, like the music I’ve posted below.
This recipe calls for removing the backbone of the chicken so that you can lay it flat. If you’ve never done this, this fella gives a great overview of how to remove the back bone, and then goes on to show you how to remove the keel bone as well (I didn’t remove the keel bone, because I didn’t know how – you learn something new everyday). If you don’t want to have to deal with the whole bird, I recommend just buying a selection of chicken breasts and thighs with the skin still attached – you can still stuff the meat under the skin that way. Or if you want to make this using regular chicken breasts (I always have some frozen in my freezer), you can just cut a slit in the middle of the breast piece and stuff the filling in there. Buying the whole bird is just cheaper, and let’s face it – a little more exciting!
This is the ultimate put it in the oven recipe – I literally didn’t touch the chicken until the hour was up. You may use that hour however you like. Browse the Internets. Play with your kids. Or watch a Chuck-Bass-filled episode of Gossip Girl (I think you know which one I chose).
Ricotta and Herb-Stuffed Chicken
Based on this recipe from Gourmet, July 2007
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cups whole-milk ricotta (use homemade if you can)
- 1 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F with racks in middle and lower third.
Stir together garlic, ricotta, eggs, parmesan, herbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Stuff and roast chicken:
Cut out the backbone from chicken with kitchen shears (freeze bones for making stock if desired). Pat chicken dry, then spread flat, skin sides up, on a cutting board.
Sprinkle chicken with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and spread chicken flat, skin sides up, in an oiled large (17- by 12-inch) shallow baking pan. Gently slide your finger between skin and flesh of breast and legs of chicken to loosen skin (be careful not to tear skin).
You really want to get under the skin. You’re pretty much violating the chicken in this step. But it’s to your benefit… your ricotta-and-herb-stuffed benefit.
Using a small spoon (or your fingers, Paula-Deen-style), slide ricotta mixture under skin. It helps to get a good helping under the skin with one hand, and then use your other hand on the outside of the chicken skin to spread the filling around under the skin. Brush skin of chicken all over with oil and sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. (I totally forgot to oil the outside of the chicken, so the skin is looking a little dry – oh well, it was still really good.)
Bake chicken in at 400 degrees for 1 hour, or until the skin is crispy and golden. Let chicken stand 10 minutes, then cut each into quarters.