Sicilian Roast Chicken - As good as it gets

Nonna’s Rice-Stuffed Chicken

Serves: 4 – 6

This recipe by Mattel Tine of Bar Carolina in Melbourne, is a brilliant example of Sicilian home cooking.

One of the best chicken dishes ever. Blow-away good.

Cooked by Nat last Sunday night, this was just genius. I literally sat back and watched and wow, was I impressed.

With all of the fresh herbs and the lemon, it is such an aromatic dish. The risotto – especially the risotto dumplings – are amazing. And despite my misgivings about roast potatoes, they just work in this dish.

Line this up for Sunday night. Open a Pinot. Dim the lights, put on some music and enjoy the Covid lockup in style.

Ingredients

1.8kg chicken
100ml olive oil
1 cup each courses chopped flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and sage
Juice of two lemons
5 roasting potatoes, peeled and quartered

Rice Stuffing

60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300gm ( 1 1/2 cups) quality risotto rice
600ml chicken stock
80gm (1 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, finely grated
50gm (1/2 cup) fine breadcrumbs
1 egg
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp each finely chopped oregano and flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. For rice stuffing, heat oil in a casserole over low-medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir until translucent and aromatic (4 – 6 minutes). Add rice and stir (1 minute, then add chicken stock and cook stirring continuously, until rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente (6 – 8 minutes; you want the rice to be undercooked).
  2. Spread the rice over a tray to cool (15 minutes). Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
  3. Preheat over to 200C. Stuff rice stuffing into chicken cavity to fill completely, then roll remaining stuffing into walnut-sized balls.
  4. Combine oil, herbs and lemon juice in a bowl. Season to taste. Place the chicken in the baking dish and then place the potatoes and dumplings around the chicken. Brush the chicken all over with the herb dressing. Pour 5mm of water into the pan and roast until the chicken is cooked through (1 1/2 hours). Set aside to rest (30 minutes) then carve and serve.

P.S. This post is dedicated to Alexa Donovan. I’ve known her since she was born, I’ve watched her grow up into a wonderful, thoughtful young woman, she has babysat my three kids plenty of times… and she can cook. (And cooks (or at least reads) this blog. I’ll see if she can do a guest post!)

Nigella’s Pea Risotto

Serves: 4

How can you not love Nigella?

She is everything in food we want but dare not eat: butter, lard, bread, chocolate and cream.

Which is probably why it has been years since I last cooked this particular recipe, though memorable enough that it beat hundreds of recipes in the backlog to make it online.

The pea puree component is on another planet and you will be strong not to eat it in isolation.

Also, adding the oil to the butter apparently stops the butter from melting though in this buttery, cheesey, gooey mess of goodness, you’re not seriously going to pull back from a drop of oil?

Open a beer, cook this and stay warm one winter’s weekend lunch.

It is worth every calorie.

60gm butter
150gm frozen peas
1l chicken stock
Grated nutmeg
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 small onion, finely chopped
Drop of oil
200g arborio rice
80ml white wine or vermouth

Method

  1. Melt 1/3 of the butter and add the frozen peas. Cook for 2 minutes until defrosted then remove 1/2 the peas and add a ladle of stock to the remaining peas. Pop on the lid and boil for 5 minutes until soft. Puree this with 1 tbsp parmesan, 1 tbsp butter and a pinch of pepper and nutmeg. Check the seasoning and dial up the nutmeg if you so desire.
  2. Turn the heat down and melt the remaining butter and the drop of oil. Add your onion and cook for 1 minute. Don’t let it brown. Add the rice and stir to coat, turn the heat down and add a ladle of stock, cooking down until absorbed. Repeat for 10 minutes, adding a splash of wine or water if and as need be.
  3. Add the reserved peas and continue to cook for another 5 – 10 minutes, continuing to add the stock and reducing slowly.
  4. When the risotto is cooked, beat in the pea puree and the extra tbsp. of parmesan and serve.