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gardening / Home and Garden / Leisure / Lifestyle

Chicken stuffed with pistachios

chicken-stuffed-with-pistachios

John Kernick

Showpiece meat dishes were a mainstay of the aristocratic table, but unless they were roasted and destined for expert carving at the sideboard, they also needed to be easy to cut up and serve. One solution was to bone them and stuff the gap with a rich forcemeat, which meant the meat could then be easily sliced and served with the obligatory sauce. This recipe has a particularly fun stuffing inspired by the Arabian Nights and with flavours reminiscent of the Middle East, and is typical of the fresher flavours becoming fashionable in the 1920s. It can be served hot or cold, though the original suggests cold with “cold well-seasoned rice.”

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, about 6 lb (2.7 kg)
  • 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic (unpeeled is fine)

For the stuffing

  • 1/4 lb (115 g) ground veal
  • 1 cup (225 g) butter, chopped
  • 1 cup (115 g) pistachios, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) ground almonds
  • 1/2 apple, such as Granny Smith, finely chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper 2 eggs, lightly whisked

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) flour White pepper
  • Handful of pistachios, for garnish

Method

  1. Start by boning the chicken (see Recipe Note). Turn the bird breast side down on a cutting board and, using a small, sharp knife, cut along the backbone from the neck to the tail. Using your fingers and the knife as needed, carefully remove the meat from both sides of the ribcage. Pull out the legs and the wings and detach them from the carcass, leaving them with the body. The breastbone is the only really tricky bit, as you need to be careful you do not tear the skin. If necessary, cut off the cartilage with the meat and then carefully remove the cartilage with a small pair of kitchen scissors or a knife afterward. Remove the carcass (save it for making stock) and scrape the thigh bones clean. Wrap the corner of a kitchen towel around the top joint to get a good grip on the leg bone so you can remove the flesh from the lower part of the leg. Cut the leg off at the joint, leaving the very lowest bone (the one with the thick yellow skin) intact. Cut the wings off neatly (save them for making stock). You should now have a fully boned chicken except for 2 inches (5 cm) or so of leg bone.
  2. To make the stuffing, combine the veal, butter, pistachios, almonds, apple, lemon zest, coriander, allspice, salt, black pepper, and eggs in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Spread the chicken, skin side down, on a work surface. Form two-thirds of the stuffing into a thick sausage shape in the middle of the chicken. Use the remaining one-third to stuff the legs, working it well into the space where the bones once were. Now fold the chicken around the stuffing, enclosing it completely to make sure it will not ooze out of the ends. Truss it securely with kitchen string, forming a neat meat package. The easiest method is to make loops at intervals around the bird and then wrap the string snugly round the remaining leg bones, using them to anchor the string.
  4. Now wrap the chicken package, parcel-style, in parchment paper, being careful to cover it fully. Wrap this parchment parcel in turn in cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel and tie the whole thing up tightly with more string.
  5. Put the chicken into a large saucepan and add water just to cover (8–10 cups/1.9–2.1 l). Add the celery, carrots, and garlic and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until a thermometer inserted in the stuffing registers 165°F (74°C), about 11/2 hours.
  6. Remove from the heat and transfer the chicken to a large plate. Leave it to rest for about 15 minutes. It must be cool enough so you don’t burn your fingers when you take off the cloth and paper. Unwrap the chicken but leave the trussing intact, then let cool completely, cover, and chill in the fridge. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve 2 cups (480 ml) for making the sauce.
  7. To make the sauce, which is served hot, first make a roux.
  8. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in the flour until smooth. Reduce the heat to low and stir for 2–3 minutes to cook off the raw flour flavor. Add the reserved cooking liquid, little by little, stirring constantly to avoid any lumps. You’ll need to add about 1 cup (240 ml) of the reserved liquid (you’ll have extra just in case). You should finish with a smooth sauce. Season with the white pepper (you can use black, but you’ll have specks in your sauce) and keep warm for serving.
  9. Snip and remove the trussing string from the chicken and transfer to a serving plate or platter. Garnish with the pistachios and serve with the hot sauce.

Recipe note

If the mere thought of galantining (boning) the chicken makes you quake, ask your butcher to do it for you. Alternatively, halve the stuffing recipe and use it to stuff a bone-in whole chicken for roasting (pictured left): Sauté the stuffing mixture in a frying pan over medium heat until the sausage is no longer pink, 3 – 4 minutes. Let cool, then loosely stuff the chicken cavity. Put the chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan, add 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) stock to the pan, and roast in a 325°F (165°C) oven, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until a thermometer registers 165°F (74°C) for the chicken and the stuffing, about 21⁄2 hours.

A recipe from The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook (Weldon Owen). Buy the book here.

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