Roast Chicken or Capon with Pecan-Apple Stuffing
I love the bit of sweet tartness the apples give this stuffing while the pecans add a wonderfully nutty crunch. The two together make an elegant stuffing full of texture and flavor. Extra stuffing can be baked on the side in a buttered baking dish. (BTW, A capon is a castrated rooster with much larger breasts than a hen. Go figure!) Serves 4 to 6
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups diced apple, ½ inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onions, diced finely
1 ½ cups thinly sliced celery
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
½ 1 pound peasant loaf, cut into ½ inch cubes, lightly toasted
1 cup lightly toasted pecan halves
1 5-pound chicken or Capon
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When the butter begins to brown, add the apples. Season the apples with salt and pepper and sauté them until they are golden, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the onions and celery to the apples and continue to cook for 5 to 6 until the onions are golden and the celery is tender, season with salt and pepper and turn out into the bowl with the apples. Add the chicken stock to the pan and bring it to a boil. Loosen browned bits on the bottom of the pan, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and then pour the stock over the apples and vegetables in the bowl.
3. Add the herbs, bread and pecans to the bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix well again. Place the stuffing in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly. The stuffing may be made a day in advance.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Trim the excess fat from around the neck and body cavities of the chicken. Stuff the neck cavity and the body cavity with the stuffing. Bake the remaining stuffing on the side.
5. Place the stuffed chicken in a roasting pan and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and continue roasting for 1½ hours or until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees F when inserted into the center of the stuffed body cavity. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving. Remove the stuffing from the cavity and serve on the side. Note: The stuffing may be baked outside the bird at 375 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes until puffed and golden, add one additional cup of chicken stock to keep it from drying out.