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Author Notes: I learned to make this chicken about 25 years ago, from a lovely little Italian lady who lived in the same town. I had done her a favor and she announced she was going to make me Italian roast chicken. She brought the dish over with roasting instructions, and later I spent a morning in her kitchen learning to make it myself. It's a great holiday dinner dish or centerpiece for a dinner party; I have even done it, minus the side veggies, on a grill (and it's great that way, too!). The stuffing keeps it moist and suffuses the chicken with a wonderful flavor, and the olive oil and spices crisp up the skin wonderfully. —Kayb
- 1/2 pound ground beef, about 25 percent fat
- 1/2 medium onion, diced small
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, chiffonaded
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in mortar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano
- 1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
- 2 cups stuffing, above
- 6 carrots, cut in 2-inch chunks
- 6 redskin potatos, cut in half or quarters
- 2 medium onions, cut in quarters
- 1 head garlic, unpeeled
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary or marjoram (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Seasoned salt
- To make the stuffing: Sweat onion and garlic in olive oil in a medium skillet until translucent. Add spinach and saute until well wilted; remove to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Yes, the ground beef is raw.
- Rinse and dry chicken inside and out. Place on rack in roasting pan.
- Toss cut-up vegetables with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place around and beneath chicken in roasting pan. Sprinkle with seasoned salt.
- Make paste of one tablespoon olive oil, basil, thyme and rosemary; loosen skin on chicken breast and thighs and rub paste into meat.
- Stuff chicken with stuffing mixture; truss and tie legs. Rub chicken skin with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast, covered, at 325 degrees for 20 minutes per pound (allowing for one pound of stuffing). Remove cover, increase heat to 400, and roast for another 15 minutes to crisp skin. Allow to sit for 20 minutes before carving.
- I like to serve this with a side of penne in a very simple tomato sauce, topped with a scoop/slab of the stuffing and a little more grated parm. And some roasted broccoli with lemon, and some good crusty bread. And it wants a red wine with it....I love Francis Ford Coppola Rosso, which is a little lighter and sweeter.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Holiday Roast
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Roast Chicken