A couple of inspirations for this recipe… I purchased a Rowe Farms whole chicken, very economical for about $14.95. It was begging for some attention in my fridge as I did not want to freeze a whole bird. FYI…raw poultry can only be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days. When I want to keep cost down, I purchase the whole chicken to cut up and freeze the pieces for future use. This time I didn’t have any time…busy work week again. The next inspiration was that we love stuffing and had no bread. Except some spelt hotdog buns in the freezer that had no wieners for mating. Those buns were pricy and had been in the freezer for a couple of months. Time to put them to good use.
In Winnipeg some years back there was a small Bohemian restaurant called Bistro Dansk. Back in the 80’s, we were one of the yuppy couples that frequented it every Friday night. A fond memory from my past. My husband always…every time… ordered the meat patties. I on the other hand was less predictable. It was a game each week to stump the proprietor as he would try to guess what we would order. When the bistro closed, the owners Joseph Vocadlo and his wife Geri, invited all the regulars for a big feast to thank us for our loyal patronage. It was a very sad day when Geri passed, way too young. She was a sweetheart and an outstanding chef. Their son reopened the bistro and I believe it is still open for business in the ‘Peg.
My favourite dish on the menu was Geri’s roasted chicken with apricot and walnut stuffing. I took those spelt hotdog buns and reinvented her recipe for the stuffing from memory…I guess we could say, in memory of Geri. To give those spelt buns moisture and further the health benefit with a little green, I added zucchini. The stuffing is adorned with loads of fresh garlic. So for you carcass lovers, the aromatics are abundant for when you decide to delve in.
I heightened the flavour profile by glazing the skin with the honey, rosemary, and lemon. When roasting a bird, use lots of dried herbs…not fresh, unless you press those under the skin to protect them from charring. The dried herbs stand up to the heat and lessens the chances of burning.
To accompany the meat and starch portions, try steaming some swiss chard. Sauteing is good too, but the stalks can be fibrous. Steaming makes it soft, mellow and slightly sweet. An easy way to add a second accompaniment is to wash some small sweet potatoes, lightly cover them with extra virgin olive oil. Place around the stuffed chicken, then sprinkle the potatoes with coarse kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. You are in for a caramelized crispy outside tender inside sweet treat…every which way!
Honey Lemon Glazed Whole Roasted Chicken with Zucchini Walnut Apricot Spelt Stuffing Serves 4
4 slices whole grain bread like spelt or two large spelt hot dog buns, cut into about 1 inch squares
1/3-cup zucchini, diced 5 dried apricot halves, large dice ¼ cup chopped walnuts 1 small onion, diced 3 large garlic cloves, chopped 1 egg, beaten Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large frying pan, heat about 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. Fry onion until soft and just starting to brown. 2. Add zucchini and just heat through. 3. Then add the bread cubes and heat through until moistened with all the flavourings. Not to brown just to moisten. 4. In a large bowl, add the warm bread mixture and combine with the fresh garlic, coarse kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and beaten egg. Ensure all ingredients moistened with the egg. 5. Stuff the chicken immediately.
2 ½ to 3 lb. whole organic chicken 1/3 cup honey 1 lemon, juice and rind 2 or more tablespoons thyme, dried leaves Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a foil lined roasting pan, stuff the chicken with bread mixture. In the cavity of the bird and at the back if there is room.
Put a small piece of foil to hold the stuffing into the cavity of the bird for the first part of roasting.
Take some extra virgin olive oil and spread it all over the bird
Sprinkle the bird liberally with coarse kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and crush the thyme leaves all over the bird.
Roast the bird for 45 minutes. Then take the foil away from the stuffing. At this stage, heat the honey in a microwave oven for about 30 seconds on medium high power. Add the lemon juice and rind. Brush the bird with the mixture every 15 minutes during the remaining roasting time.
The bird will take up to 90 minutes to roast. Use a thermometer inserted in the middle of the stuffing to an internal temperature of 85 degrees C. 165 degrees F.
If you don’t have a thermometer, the juices from the chicken should be clear and NOT cloudy or pink. The legs easily move within the joints of the chicken.
Separate the roasted chicken into 2 breasts, 2 legs with thighs, 2 wings, and backbone.
Serving suggestions: Take small sweet potatoes and wipe each with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Place in the pan and roast with the chicken. They will be done when the chicken is ready.
Food Safety Caution: Stuff chicken quickly and put into the oven immediately. Warm stuffing and cold chicken left out at room temperature can grow harmful bacteria.