Mini Thanksgiving

Three weeks ago my husband and I became the somewhat unexpected new owners of a 6 mo. old puppy. Since Brian was working; the entertainment, training, and exercise of the dog was left solely to me and I was grateful that as dinner time rolled around each day I definitely didn’t have time to cook so I was grateful to have frozen pot-stickers to rely on. This week though I vowed to get back into the swing of things. So I created a menu for the week, bought all the ingredients at once (which never happens), and have made three great meals over the last three days. My success though has in no small part been due to the fact that Brian has been distracting the dog while I go about my culinary business; hallelujah!

Today’s recipe for roast chicken stuffed with Gruyère, bread, and sausage was relatively time consuming for a weeknight dinner but also outrageously delicious and straightforward to make. The end result was super succulent bird, with a crispy golden brown skin AND crazy good stuffing. Before the stuffing went into the bird it was yummy but it became extraordinary during the roasting process as the Gruyère melted over everything and the bread absorbed both the pan and sausage juices.

We ended up serving this delicious bird and accompanying stuffing with Israeli couscous cooked in chicken stock, a green salad and pinot grigio. It felt like a feast reminiscent of a small Thanksgiving that resulted in moans of approval from the assembled dinners.

This is a fantastic meal perfect for guests that looks impressive and tastes amazing. But don’t worry guests are not required and you will be just as happy, and maybe even more making this all for yourself!

Roast chicken stuffed with Gruyère, bread, and sausage adapted from William Sonoma Cheese cookbook by Georgeanne Brennan  

Serves 4-6

For the Stuffing

2 TBSP unsalted butter

2 TBSP minced shallots

2 tsp minced thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 lb bulk spicy or sweet Italian pork or chicken sausage

3 oz. Gruyere cheese

3-4 baguette slices cut 1 inch thick, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 tsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 chicken about 4 lbs.

1 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose a roasting pan that is just large enough to accommodate the chicken, and if you have one place a rack in the pan, no sweat if you don’t.

To make the stuffing, in a frying pan over medium heat melt the butter. When the butter foams, add the shallots, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring until the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up occasionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the cheese, bread cubes and parsley and toss to combine.

Pat the chicken dry and rub inside and out with the butter. Season with the salt and pepper. Pack the cavity snugly with the stuffing and truss the legs with kitchen string (I skipped the trussing step). Place the stuffed bird in the pan and roast until the skin is golden brown and the juices of the inner thigh run clear when pierced with a knife, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh without touching the bone registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit, about 1.5 hours. Transfer to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

To serve, scoop the stuffing from the cavity onto a platter. Carve the chicken into serving pieces and arrange them around the stuffing. Drizzle with juices from the roasting pan and serve at once.  Enjoy!