We have a little celebration this weekend, so I’m breaking out the celebration food with this new recipe! An Italian-Canadian Life won third in the Ninjamatic’s 2012 Canadian Weblog Awards! YAY! Thanks so much to my readers and supporters, it’s an awesome honour to have the first year out of the gate. I was in amazing company with the other nominees and I know I have a lot of work ahead of me as I improve the blog and continue to document the Italian-Canadian life that I love.
In Italian families, celebrations mean food, lots of food. So I’m serving up an all-food month of blog postings for February. It’s what my readers (and me, let’s be honest), love best. So join the celebration – grab a seat, pull up to the table and dig in! We start the celebration with hubby cooking up his rotolo di pollo recipe, a hand-me-down recipe from his Nonna that he knows by heart. The stuffing is fantastic and the meal itself makes for a great presentation. Of course, I tagged along on the cooking with my camera and notebook in hand so we can finally write this recipe down.
Rotolo di Pollo
1 whole chicken, with liver and heart
meat from 2 sausages
1 cup coarse breadcrumbs
1 cup parmiggiano cheese
1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk
2 red onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/8 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
For this recipe, you want to start by preparing the stuffing as it needs time to cool. Warm the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions. Sprinkle the onions liberally with salt and cook on medium heat until caramelized. While the onions are cooking, roughly chop and salt the liver and heart from the chicken. If you want the taste of the liver and heart without the large pieces, you can finely chop them or use your food processor to make a fine paste. Remove meat from the sausage casing and break it up by hand. Stir the liver/heart mixture into the sausage meat and set aside.
Once the onions are caramelized, add the sausage meat mixture to the frying pan and cook on medium-high heat until the meat is browned. Add the garlic and sautee for another minute. Your pan should be nice and hot at this point, so pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan allowing the alcohol to evaporate for about two minutes. Add the parsley and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Finally, stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely. When cool, transfer the stuffing mixture into a bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs and parmiggiano cheese. Add a 1/4 cup of milk to the stuffing an mix until it as a paste-like consistency with a wooden spoon or by hand. If it is too dry, add in more milk one teaspoon at a time.
To prepare the chicken, you need to clean and debone it. If you are up for deboning a chicken yourself, you can find instructions in any excellent cookbook or online, like this great video from a Toronto butcher. If the thought of deboning a chicken is overwhelming (like me, I leave it up to my husband), you do have two other options: ask your butcher to debone the chicken for you or use a large turkey breast for this recipe instead. To substitute in a large turkey breast, be sure to flatten the turkey meat by pounding it with a meat tenderizer to thin it out before you roll it up.
When your chicken (or turkey breast) is prepared, lay it skin-side down on a cutting board. Coat the chicken with an even layer of the stuffing mixture that is now cool, being sure to cover all areas. Gently roll up the chicken, starting from the side closest to you. You’ll need to secure the long roll of chicken so that it does not come apart while cooking, just as you would tie up a roast. There are many ways of doing this, from simple string ties to modern silicon ties that snap on easily.
Rub the outside of your rolled up chicken lightly with butter or olive oil and place it into a roasting pan. Cook the chicken at 475 degrees for 15 minutes to brown the skin, then at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the inside temperature reaches 160 degrees. When ready, remove the chicken from the pan and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Cut and serve with sides like potatoes or squash.
This recipe is a favourite of mine, maybe mostly because I don’t have to do the work, but the stuffing is also very flavourful. It’s a great dish to also prepare in advance for dinner and looks great served up for guests.
So that’s our main course done for this part of the celebration! The food fest continues for the rest of February!