The traditional Christmas meal in a Catalan family strats with a rich broth served hot to warm us up theese cold winter days called ‘Escudella’, and follows up by a moist roast, usually cooked in a casserole. Tradition calls for capon, rooster, turkey, chicken, duck or even rabbit, in fact whatever they had in the their farmyard. The stuffing of the fowl is probably the most important garnish (and coulgd even be a reason to fight over if the cook runs short of!) and may vary deppending on the cook, but is usually a comination on dried fruits, as prunes and apricots, bacon and roasted nuts, usually pine nuts, however hazle nuts work amazing too.
Like in most recipes, at Cook and Taste, we absolutely love adding our personal touch. These following days we will be feeding many people, celebrating their special Christmas meal along with a fun team building. For most them, the top choice is this amazing and succulent stuffed chicken. it differs slightly from the traditional version, since we do not roast in a casserole, and we preffer to debone (which makes it very easy to portion and has a stunning presentation).
To garnish the meat, we typically serve potato puree, however, the idea of celeriac o even Jerusalem artichokes sounds wonderful! probably celeriac is much faster option among the three, and the result is a very fine puree, however we’re going to stick to the traditional garnish for today!
FOR THE STUFFED CHICKEN LEGS
Ingredients (serves 6)
4 whole chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks) boneless but with skin!
150g thinly sliced smoked bacon
100g pitted prunes and or dried apricots (these will give a fresh and acidic flavor)
100g toasted pine nuts
1 big onion
rancid wine (brandy, sherry, or any other cooking wine could work)
200ml chicken broth
salt and pepper
Thinly dice the onion (brunoise) and gently poach in a pan with a pinch of salt. The onions will start sweating (due to the osmosis salt will force) by the time the juice they release dries out, degalce with a drizzle of the cooking wine of your choice and let evaporate until it becomes a thick sauce. Notice that at this point, the onions acquire a slightly golden colour. Add a splash of olive oil,wine and chicken broth and lower the heat to caramelise for about 20 minuts, at least. Set aside to garnish when plating.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil.
Cut the bacon in thin strips, about 2cm wide and chop prunes coarsley. Mix well along with the pine nuts in a bowl and set aside.
The method to stuff the chicken is very similar to the one used to roll up foie gras when making micuit. You will need, a cutting board, a roll of plastic wrap, and a pairing knife.
Place the roll of plastic wrap on the upper part of the cutting board. Unroll the plastic on the cutting board and place the chicken skin down on top. Season to taste with salt and pepper and scatter the the mixture of bacon, dried fruit and pine nuts horizontally in the upper half of the chicken. Cut the plastic wrap leaving enough plastic to help yourself with it to roll it into a cylinder. Now pinch the plastic left in the sides and roll the cilinder on the cuttig board. This will compress the chicken and force any air out, as well as ensure a nice tight shape!
For safety, and to prevent any leaks, wrap each cylinder thoroughly until ensure it is sealed. Place the cylinders in the boiling water and boil along with some weight on top, for around 20/30 minutes, but best ckeck with a meat thermometer when it reaches 75ºC.
Remove from water and place in a cold water bath. This will allow all the gelatine of chicken to settle and will help preserving the cylinder shape. Once cool, remove the plastic wrap and brush some butter all over the surface, place on a tray and grill untill the ski turns golden brown. Cut in rings 1.5 cm thick.
FOR THE POTATO PUREE
1 kg potato
250g butter diced
25cl whole milk
salt and pepper
Thoroughly wash the potatoes and place in a pot along with cold water and a generous spoonfull of salt. Bring to a boil and cook medium heat until tender (usually the skin will crack, but still double check inserting a pairing nife) drain in a strainer and let dry for a couple minutes, at this pont potatoes are relly steaming, be carefull not to get burnt! While the potatoes cool down, slightly heat up the milk in a saucepan. Proceed, carefully to peel the potatoes and tip back into the pot. Dry them up for a couple more minutes at a very low heat and mash with your potato masher, while keep adding dices of butter and drizzles of milk until the puree is smooth and creamy. Season with a nice pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, covered with plastic wrap to prevent from drying out on the surface and creating and unplesant crust.
note* it is very important to make the potato puree whilst potatoes are still hot, otherwise the result will be a gooey sticky pure rather than a much creamy and silky one!
Heat up the potato puree and the caramelised onion sauce.
Smear the puree on the plate and place the slices of chicken on top. Glace the chicken with the onions sauce. You may scatter some pine nuts on top and decorate with frech dill. Enjoy!