This ricotta stuffed chicken recipe is based on a recipe from a Weber grilling cookbook, and as such requires that you butterfly the chicken (makes it easier to grill). Although the recipe is designed for grilling, it can easily be done in the oven. The ricotta cheese and the herbs make for a truly tasty chicken, filling, but not too rich.
To butterfly a chicken, you cut it open on one side, spread open the chicken and lay it flat. The benefits of laying the chicken out flat is that it makes it easier to grill and faster to roast. Traditionally butterflying a chicken is done by cutting the chicken open along the backbone, and then removing the backbone and tail. But if you haven’t the faintest idea what you are doing (“Uh, dad, I think we just cut the chicken open on the breast side”), it will still work, as long as you can flatten out the chicken.
Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Recipe
- 1 whole roasting chicken, 4 to 5 lbs.
- 12 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Butterfly the chicken by using poultry shears or a knife to cut along one side of the backbone. Cut along the other side and remove the backbone and tail. Spread the chicken open, skin side up. Press down on the chicken with the palms of your hands (or pound with your fists) to flatten the chicken. Skewer neck skin to back.
2 In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, garlic, 2 teaspoons of chopped basil, and 1 teaspoon of chopped tarragon.
3 Using a sharp paring knife and your fingers, loosen skin over top of chicken and drumsticks starting at neck edge. Carefully spoon cheese mixture
under skin of chicken, pressing with your fingers to distribute evenly over the chicken
4 Brush chicken lightly with oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon tarragon, paprika, and a generous amount of salt.
5a Grilling method
Prepare grill for medium indirect heat. If using a gas grill, heat all burners on high until the grill is hot, then turn off the middle burner. If using a charcoal grill, bank the coals to one side of the grill and place a large aluminum drip pan underneath the grate on the side without coals, adding a couple cups of water to the drip pan so that the drippings don't burn.
Place the chicken, skin side up, on the cooking grate, away from the side with coals if you are using a charcoal grill, or above the middle burner if you are using gas. Alternatively, you can lay the chicken out on a rack in a disposable aluminum roasting pan and place the roasting pan on the cooking grate (this tip works well with gas grills, I haven't tried it with the charcoal one yet). Cover the grill.
5b Oven method
Preheat oven to 500°F. Place chicken, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Place in oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350°F.
6 Roast for an hour to an hour and a half, until the juices run clear from the thigh when pierced with a fork. (Breast meat should have an internal temperature of 165°F, thigh meat should have an internal temperature of 175°F.) Transfer chicken to a cutting board; let stand 10 minutes. Cut into quarters, cutting lengthwise and crosswise.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.