Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and not for just the food. Tradition in our home, since we live so far from our families, is to invite other military friends who are without their families as well. We've been doing this for almost 15 years now and have built strong bonds with a lot of these people.
Since we will be in the middle of our big household I wasn't sure if I would actually get the chance to have Thanksgiving dinner this year and I figured we might as well enjoy something close to it right now. I had a roasting chicken in the fridge and decided, while at the commissary yesterday, to make a mini Tday dinner, but with chicken instead of turkey.
If you're doing this recipe for your own Thanksgiving this year, make sure you double the recipe. Nothing like having a little leftover stuffing to go with the leftover turkey. :)
Peel and chop 1 carrot.
Dice half an onion.
Chop 2-3 stalks celery.
I use Jimmy Dean sage seasoned sausage. We only need half of this tube. For a full turkey dinner, use all of it.
Put a little olive oil in a skillet and crumble in the sausage. Add a bay leaf.
When the meat is halfway browned, add your veggies.
Season well with salt and pepper. Then add a little (don't go crazy with this!) sage.
And then a little thyme.
Cook until the sausage is nice and cooked and the veggies are just starting to cook. You don't want to let them go too long because they'll turn to mush in the oven.
Take a bag of herbed seasoned stuffing. I find these really aren't seasoned that well. This was the smaller bag they sell. Buy the bigger bag if you're doing turkey so you have enough to fill the cavity.
Dump it into a large bowl.
Dump the cooked veggie/sausage mix right into the bowl. Season again with a little salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf.
Make sure after you pull the chicken from its bag, that you rinse the outside and inside well with cold water. Reach in the body cavity and pull out the innards. Make sure you check the neck cavity as well. Sometimes they surprise you by putting stuff in there too.
A really easy way to stuff a bird is to put it in a bowl. There's nothing worse than a bird on the loose when you're trying to fill it.
Season the inside of the chicken well with salt and pepper.
Take handfuls of stuffing and fill the bird right up. Do not overstuff. It will take longer for the chicken to cook.
I know a lot of people say don't stuff because you could get salmonella. I have *never* had a problem with food poisoning. Ever. You can't beat stuffing that has been cooked in the bird, soaking up all of the juices. Completely divine.
You will more than likely have a lot of stuffing leftover. Add some chicken stock to the bowl and mix. When the breading is a little moist, pour it into a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake right along with the chicken.
Once the chicken is stuffed. Lay out on your cutting board and pull the skin around the cavity closed. Tack down with toothpicks. With a turkey, you might need to use skewers, or stitch closed with butchers twine.
Tuck the wings under the bird and put in a roasting pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and rub all over the body with your hand.
Without being repetative, season the body well with salt and pepper, then a little sage and thyme. Rub everything all over the coated chicken.
Put the chicken in a 350* oven for about 1 1/2 hours.
You will know the chicken is done when the skin is beautifully golden and crisp.
**NOTE: When roasting a turkey, make sure you follow the directions on the package. Turkey needs to roast at a lower temp to ensure everything is cooked all the way through.
To serve, pull out the toothpicks and scoop out the moist stuffing. I usually add the stuffing cooked in the bird to the baking dish with the reserved cooked stuff so everyone gets a little of both.
Carve your bird and serve with whatever sides you like. Are you craving Thanksgiving dinner yet? :D