[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Chicken and Pudding
26 January 2012

Nature, it is said, abhors a vacuum. In the culinary world, this seems to mean that if an animal has a cavity, we want to fill it with something. Sausages, turkey with stuffing ... the list of things jammed into other things goes on and on. This tradition is an ancient one; medieval and early-modern recipes for this-and-that farced with the-other abound.

A while back I was browsing through Robert May's, The Accomplisht Cook, a late 17th century cookbook, for a project and stumbled across the section on roasting. Mostly it was sauces and the like for roast critters, but there was a mention of roasting a pig and making a pudding in his belly. This got to me to thinking that it might be fun to do something like this with a chicken. I had an idea of what I wanted, a stuffing that would set like a pudding and hold its shape. The trick would lie in getting it extracted from the cavity in one piece.

May writes on pg. 146:

You may make a pudding in his belly, with grated bread, and some sweet herbs minced small, a litlte beef-suet also minced, two or three yolks of raw eggs, grated nutmeg, sugar, currans, cream, salt, pepper &c. Dredge it or bread it with flower, bread, sugar, cinamon slic't nutmeg."

With that as inspiration, I began to improvise ...

With stuffed poultry, the trick is to make sure that everything is cooked all the way through, without bits getting overcooked or dry. To that end I decided to cook at a low temperature, covered, for a good long while, then kick it up a bit for browning. I also decided to remove the wings entirely.

Chicken Stuffed with a Pudding

As mentioned, first remove the chicken wings and save them for stock or other uses. Then make the pudding. Mix the crumbs, spices and egg yolks together. Then begin to add cream. You want the mix to hold its shape, almost like a cookie dough. 3/4 cup of heavy cream is about right, but be bit chary when you add it since humidity and the moisture in your crumbs may affect it a bit. When you've got it to the right texture, pack it firmly into the cavity of the bird. Dust the bird with salt and pepper and place, breast down, in a roasting dish. Cover the dish and put into a 325F oven for two hours.

[Carving] After two hours, kick the heat up to 350F, flip the bird breast up and return to the oven, uncovered, for half an hour. Remove and let rest.

Some of the fun with this dish is the presentation. The whole point of the pudding is that it should be in one piece. So when you are ready to serve, I recommend carving at table, so the folks can see. I also recommend the following procedure: begin by placing the bird breast down on your carving board. Remove the back. Kitchen shears work a treat here, although a knife would do the trick as well. The pudding is now exposed and, if all went well, can be lifted out whole. Finish carving the bird according to your preference, slice the pudding, spoon on some of the pan juice and serve.

There won't be a whole lot of pan juice, though. With the pudding in place, most of the juices are absorbed into the pudding, which makes the pudding taste amazing. The chicken remained moist throughout. I served it with asparagus, which I cooked by simply tossing it in with the chicken for the last phase of cooking - they were a little mushy, but had great flavor from cooking in the pan juice.

NB: I used mace rather than nutmeg since I was out of nutmeg. Mace, being the outer covering of the nutmeg, is a good substitute. If you've got nutmeg and no mace, by all means use nutmeg.

© 2012 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite