Giving Chicken as much love and respect as traditional Turkey gets
"If you can roast a chicken you can roast a turkey too."
Or backwards in this case, lolThe Joy of Cooking
This fantastic, crispy, roasted chicken stuffed with apples, dates, and bacon is a new take on the fall season and Thanksgiving.
The tradition of Thanksgiving started as a celebration of perseverance and gratitude. Gratitude to the natives who aided the colonizer in their heroic expedition of settling "uncharted" terrain, and gratitude to the grace of God for providing for them through the endeavor. For many centuries we have followed the tradition of Thanksgiving meals. We experience the pressure of buying an oversized turkey. Making five to ten different side dishes. Not to count about the same amount of desserts.
The fantastic, crispy, roasted chicken stuffed with apples, dates, and bacon is a recipe that takes on those traditions and turns them around. Suited more for people with fewer mouths to feed without relegating the season's flavors.
Blasphemy might be the first thought that comes to mind when cooking anything other than turkey for Thanksgiving, but let me explain my circumstances. For many years I have been the family member that bounces from house to house. As a divorced parent, I had to take my children to their grandparent's homes for the celebrations. A bit frustrating because I could not express my cooking energy at the Super Bowl of cooking holidays. Still, every year without delay, I would bundle my babies and head out early in the morning to grandparent number one. Spend a few hours there and then head out to grandparent number two. Food coma was not an option since I still had to bundle up my babies and take them back home.
As the children grew older and I ended up moving back to Florida, there was no more bouncing, and we resumed the traditional big turkey party of twelve-plus guests. The only caveat, Puerto Ricans LOVE pork! So not every Thanksgiving was turkey. The new other situation was that my brother was also making a turkey, and my sister would make a ham. Now we had enough meat to serve a party of thirty! While my mom was still alive, we discussed the thought of the overabundance of food. We both agree that Thanksgiving is also a celebration of the harvest and the plenty. But when the plenty becomes frozen leftovers two weeks after the celebration, we need to start trimming somewhere.
To turkey, or not to turkey; that is the question
Yes, I bard this dilemma. Sometimes, we get stuck in what was and fail to see what is. The turkey has been the centerpiece of tradition, not because it was the only bird available to eat on the first Thanksgiving, but only because of the sheer size of the bird. That is to say, if we are serving 18 people, then a turkey might be the best source of protein for this occasion, but if only four people attend, a chicken will work just as well. To me, this is a question on logistics. How many people will I serve, and how much can I afford?
Second to turkey in the traditional meal components is the stuffing. I view stuffing the fowl as a flavoring agent, in this case, chicken. I usually use the stuffing I put inside the bird for gravy or a sauce and make a different stuffing as an accompaniment. A traditional mirepoix consists of onions, carrots, and celery. These vegetables infuse the chicken with flavor from the inside out. I replaced the carrots with apples and added dates for this particular recipe. I want to infuse the chicken with seasonal flavors to celebrate the time of the year. The onions and celery will accentuate savory flavors without diminishing the sweetness of the apples and dates. Thyme is another sweet-smelling herb that will not overpower the other flavors while steeping a floral bouquet.
Finally, bacon. I have decided to render the bacon fat and mix it with melted butter to get the crispy skin on the bird. I will use the bacon pieces used for rendering in the sauce. As always, I hope you enjoy this recipe. This recipe could be easily adaptable for turkey. Just scroll down toward the end of the recipe card to see turkey notations.
I served this chicken with smashed baby Yukon potatoes, but it goes great with my Pretzel Stuffing and grilled sweet potatoes!!
Easy Crispy, Oven Roasted Apple Bacon Chicken
- Whole Chicken remove the neck and giblets.
- A large container or bucket to submerge the Chicken s
- ½ cup of salt
- ½ gallon of water
- One onion peeled and quartered
- One small celery stalk
- One apple
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or eight springs fresh (optional)
- 6-9 tablespoon melted butter
- 6-9 tablespoon bacon fat
- ¾ cups water
- Mix ½ cup of salt and ½ gallon of water to make the brine solution in a clean, never used before bucket or large pot that will be bigger than the chicken. We need enough to cover the chicken thoroughly. If this is not enough solution, make more by a ratio of 1 cup salt to 1 gallon water.
Preparing the Chicken
- Remove chicken from the packaging. Set giblets and neck to the side and rinse bird through.
- Rinse giblets and neck as well, since they will be used to make gravy later on.
- Place the chicken inside the bucket or large stockpot.
- Set the chicken in a very cool spot for 4-6 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees.
- Remove chicken from the brine. Rinse thoroughly, inside and out. Pat skin and cavities dry.
- Place the ingredients from group B inside the large cavity in the chicken.
- Tie legs of the chicken together to loosely close cavity.
- Place chicken upside down in a V-rack or sturdy wire rack set inside a roasting pan
- Brush entire chicken with butter/bacon fat mixture.
- Pour ¾ cups of water into the roasting, do not get chicken wet.
- Roast chicken for about 30~45 minutes, basting with butter bacon mixture
- Remove chicken from the oven. Using large tongs, flip chicken. Baste chicken with butter bacon mixture and return to the oven. Cook until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is 165 for about 30 minutes.
- Remove chicken from the oven and into a platter and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before cutting.