Ricotta Stuffed Chicken

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

  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole roasting chicken, 4 to 5 lbs.

Stuffing:

  • 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

Rub:

  • Salt
  • 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

Method

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.

ricotta-roast-chicken-2.jpg ricotta-roast-chicken-1.jpg

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
and drumsticks.

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.

Links:
Mom's summer squash recipe - pictured with the chicken above
Epicurious' take on ricotta stuffed chicken

17 Comments

  1. lydia

    Years ago, when I wrote a newspaper column in Boston, one of my favorite articles was about the day I cooked with a well-known Boston police officer. He was of Italian descent, and he taught me to make chicken stuffed with ricotta, raisins and mint. I’d never had chicken stuffed with cheese before, but it was a thing of beauty, served with a fresh tomato sauce.

  2. The Cooking Ninja

    Looks fantastic !

  3. Janet V

    Any idea about how long you should grill the chicken like this? I have a large charcoal grill, so I’d be using the one-side method. I haven’t grilled any chicken at all on it yet, so I have no guidelines. I am also guessing you would not turn it over, and that you’d cook it with the lid closed. I guess you can tell I’m anxious to try this! Thanks.

  4. Dani

    Wow…that looks a little tricky but sounds absolutely fantastic. I’ll have to put on my thinking cap and see if I can come up with a recipe that uses the same idea and flavors but is a little less involved….or better yet, can I just come over for dinner(hee hee)?!!
    Thanks for another great recipe!

  5. Trinity

    I have taken thin slices of eggplant and filled them with a stuffing that is very similar to your ricotta stuffing, but I have never tried it in chicken sounds delicious!

  6. chigiy

    It’s always nice to find a great new chicken recipe. This one sounds scrumptious. Thank you.

  7. Amy

    What a clever idea! It sounds delicious, I’ll be trying this soon. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Elise

    Hi Lydia – Ricotta, raisins, and mint? What a great sounding combination! I’ll have to try that, thank you.

    Hi Janet – You definitely do not turn the chicken over. You want low, indirect heat. If your charcoal grill doesn’t come with a thermometer (mine didn’t, but a $4 thermometer was easy to install with a little drilling), you can use a candy thermometer, just insert it into the air vent. The temp should be around 350°F. Cooking time depends on the size of the chicken. Ours was perfectly cooked at about one hour ten minutes.

    Hi Debbie – We have both a charcoal and a gas grill. I roasted this chicken on a roasting rack, over a roasting pan, in the gas grill, basically mimicking our oven. It was over 100°F that day, so we didn’t want to use the oven. I think the taste would have been the same if we had used the oven. Charcoal, on the other hand, is a different story. The smoldering charcoal will impart its own smokey flavor to whatever is cooked on it.

  9. Amy Kilpack

    I can’t wait to try this. I have some whole fryers that I need to use. This recipe came at just the right time. Thanks Elise for all the wonderful ideas!

  10. Patricia Scarpin

    What a delicious way to “dress up” chicken, Elise – it looks delicious! I love recipes with ricotta.

  11. Linda

    This sounds yummy! I would love to try making this with boneless, skinless breasts instead of a whole fryer. I hate the skin and only eat white meat. I wonder if I could just slice the breast and stuff it with the cheese filling and then throw it on the grill? Anyone try doing it that way?

  12. Claire

    Thanks for all the great recipes – every one I try is a hit! I’m wondering how you prepared the vegetables pictured with your chicken? I usually just do olive oil salt and pepper and roast/grill, but it’s getting boring. And what do you call those cute little yellow squash?

  13. Elise

    Hi Claire – that’s my mom’s summer squash recipe. Aren’t those little squash called “pattypan”?

  14. baska

    AS ONE REVIEWER TEE’D OFF:

    “Wow…that looks a little tricky”

    1) Butterflying slightly underdescribed, imo – but it’s detailed/illustrated in many cookbooks (see Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home – he has a tip on ‘nicking’ butterflied chicken to insure even cooking)

    2) For some reasons, seems it would work better on grill…

    3) 1.5 hrs is pretty long for butterflied chicken…guess it’s the underskin cheese…

    4) ‘high temp’ cooking can be tricky…I’ve burnt a few butterflied chickens, using directions from ‘am’s home test kitchen 2007′

  15. Megan

    I made this with boneless skinless chicken breast and I’m almost certain that was my first and last mistake. The flavor just wasn’t there. Although it could be that I’m not much of a ricotta fan. However, my husband is and he enjoyed this dish.

  16. Wino Lisa

    I am lactose intolerant but have found a “fake” cottage cheese that I use in lasagna instead of ricotta. Do you think cottage cheese will work in this recipe or will I have a huge mess on my hands? Thanks!

    No idea. But if you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  17. Kimborloni

    i am making this right now and it smells amazing. I over seasoned the chicken inside and out so that it will be perfect after baking in the oven at 350. Yes the instructions are not detalied on how to butterfly the chicken but all you have to do is google it and about a 1,000 video tutorials show up. I watched mine and took me about 2mins to do. It looks amazing and everyone is pacing in front of the oven waiting for it comeout. Also, i didn’t have any of the spices on hand so used SPIKE and a little mediterranean spice, but had the fresh parsley used twice the amount and 3 cloves of garlic.
    I will report back with the taste but i am sure if it taste like it smells it will be amazing!

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