Roast Chicken is a grand dish, fit for the sterling, white table clothes and good friends. Roast Chicken is also quite economical, and if there are leftovers, they are wonderful. A salad or green vegetable, (try asparagus with a bit of Bearnaise Sauce if it is the boss you are having over for dinner), gravy from the pan juices, a bottle of wine and a nice dessert will make for a memorable meal.
First prepare your chicken. Take a nice, plump roasting or frying chicken, remove the giblets and the fat pads and wash well. Be careful not to cut or tear the skin, since we will be sewing the stuffing in. Drain the chicken well.
Put the giblets in a small saucepan with a cup or so of water, a couple celery tops, a grind of black pepper, and simmer for a while to make a bit of stock. You will probably want to add at least a piece of a chicken bouillion cube to give it a bit more body.
Use a decent white bread, not "sandwich bread" if you can help it. Reserve bread. In a fairly large frying pan, saute together:
When onion and celery are nice and limp, add bread and toss together. Moisten well with the chicken stock. You want the stuffing nice and damp, but not so wet that it sticks together and turns to mush.
Stuff the Chicken
First, and this is the most interesting part, loosen the skin of the chicken. This is easily done by pushing your thumbs around between the skin and the meat of the chicken. Do this carefully, and use a small sharp knife to cut anything loose that doesn't come easily, like where the breast bone meets the skin. Don't bother with the thighs and legs unless you are feeling like a real pro, but work your way around toward the back a little bit.
Now take about half of the stuffing and work it into the space between the skin and the meat of the chicken in a nice even plump layer. Do this gently. Next, stuff the main cavity and the front cavity with the rest of the stuffing. Now sew up the skin carefully using a big needle and light cotton string. The skin can also be fastened with toothpicks or skewers. When fastened, gently even out the shape of the bird.
Put the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, put a few pats of butter on top, and if you have a sprig or two of fresh rosemary or some whole leaf dry rosemary, also put that on top. Roast the chicken at 350 degrees, basting with pan juices occasionally, until nicely browned and the juices run clear when the thickest parts of the thigh are deeply pierced. This generally takes about an hour or so. Gravy from the pan juices is a natural with the stuffing.
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