In culinary school we did a chicken where the stuffing was placed under the skin. I loved it - it made for such a moist, flavorful chicken, and I've been experimenting with various stuffings ever since. This is one I've honed in on as a crowd pleaser for my family (if only because I've received LOTS of swiss chard from my farm CSA). I made it again this weekend, and even the grandkids liked it, quite a feat I can assure you. This stuffing sings Italy to me with the combination of swiss chard, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, couscous, capers and sun-dried tomatoes with a twist of lemon. It sounds like a lot of flavors, but when I've tried various combinations, each time everyone would say 'this is great, but there's something missing'. This time, everyone just smiled and asked for more. The stuffing takes about 40 minutes to make, but then you can relax with a glass of wine and clean the kitchen while the chicken is roasting. The stuffing can also be done the day ahead and even tastes better that way. —TheWimpyVegetarian
Swiss Chard Stuffing
bunches of green swiss chard
cooked couscous (see note below on how I cooked it)
Tear the leaves of the swiss chard into large pieces, discarding the central stalk/rib. Place in a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well. When cool enough to handle, roll tightly into a towel to soak out as much moisture as possible. Coarsely chop and set aside.
To make the couscous, bring 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth to boil with 1 smashed, peeled garlic clove, lemon zest from 1/2 lemon, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. When it's all boiling, add 1 cup of dry couscous, remove from the heat, cover and wait 10 minutes. Fluff and measure out 1 cup and place in a large bowl you will use for the stuffing.
Saute the onion in the butter until tender. Add to the bowl with the couscous and add the swiss chard. Add the cheeses, and everything else except the egg. Mix well with a large spoon. Lightly whisk the egg and add to the stuffing and mix well again. Adjust for salt and pepper. Set aside while prepping the chicken.
Prepping and Roasting the Chicken
Chickens can contain a lot of water from the process used to pluck them, so I always salt the chicken the night before I'm going to roast it and lightly wrap it in the refrigerator. If you don't do this the night before, do it anyway as much before roasting time as possible. It results in a more tender chicken with a crispier skin every time.
Preheat the oven to 400F. You can either flatten the chicken for roasting by cutting out the backbone and then forceably flattening the chicken or roast it as is. I find the stuffing will stay under th skin better if I flatten it, I'll get a more even crispy skin, and can to shorten the roasting time, and the overall flavor doesn't seem to be affected.
Loosen the skin in the area of the breasts, legs and thighs for inserting the stuffing. Gently push the stuffing under the skin, moving it gently around by massaging the skin. If you don't use all the stuffing, you can cook it separately in a small pan in the oven and add it to the chicken later in serving.
Once the chicken is stuffed, spread olive oil on the skin and salt and pepper. Squeeze lemon juice at the end, and assuming you didn't flatten the chicken, place the squeezed lemon inside the cavity of the chicken along with the used lemon slices you used for making the stuffing.
Roast for about 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the meat thermometer reads about 165-170F in the breast. If you cook it any longer than that, the moistness of the stuffing will prevent it from tasting too dry, but the texture will not be as appealing. If the skin gets too dark and crispy, just place some foil over the top. We like our skin pretty crispy, but that's a personal perference.
Let sit for 10 minutes to collect and distribute the juices before carving.
Thanks to the stuffing, you need only serve a salad or some asparagus on the side to complete the meal. I've added different pictures showing how it looks whole, carved up and on the plate since each looks so different. Enjoy!!!