Saturday, January 4, 2014


Roast stuffed chicken makes any meal special.
I haven’t made a stuffed turkey for more than two years! With fewer people at my holiday table, it just doesn’t make sense to roast a big bird. But, I’ve been missing the pleasure—the wonderful smell of a stuffed bird while it’s in the oven and the anticipation of a lovely meal to come. And stuffing (or, maybe you call it dressing)--sage, onion and celery; mushroom-thyme, or apple and sausage--stuffing is a big part of the delight.

So, why wait for another holiday? Stuff a chicken right now! For Sunday dinner, when you have time to enjoy the slow-roasting and the aroma that fills the house with a celebratory feel. Even if you are only two or three or four, the leftovers are gratifying.

Three Kings, from a village Nativity scene.

In Spain at Christmas (which, by the way, is not over yet, as 12th night and the holiday of Epiphany—Kings Day, when kiddies get their gifts from the Three Kings from Bethlehem is January 6), a favorite item is boned chicken with a stuffing of ground pork and ham. Boned chicken is easy to serve.

Pork stuffing with dried fruits.
I’ve used a Catalan version of that stuffing, with dried fruits and nuts, to stuff a whole, bone-in chicken. I look for a good-sized bird—at least 5 pounds—either free-range or organic. The free-range chickens I get are fairly lean but have great flavor and texture. The pork stuffing helps to baste them from the inside out.

Juicy chicken, savory-sweet stuffing.

Roast Stuffed Chicken
Pollo Relleno con Carne y Frutas Secas

A medium-dry Sherry adds subtle background flavor to the stuffing and the pan juices. If not available, use any white wine. Use any combination of dried fruits. I favored apricots, Málaga raisins* and prunes. If they are very dry and leathery, soak them in hot water for 30 minutes, then drain and add to the stuffing. You can substitute pork sausage meat for the ground pork—but don’t add additional salt to the stuffing. Truffle is an optional, luxurious, addition to the stuffing mixture. Lard can be substituted for olive oil, if desired. Small onions, carrots, potatoes, turnips can be added to the roasting pan, if desired.
*Málaga muscatel raisins, shown in the photo, are the sweetest in the world. They do, however, have seeds.Worth the trouble of de-seeding them.

Serves 6.

Dried fruits go into stuffing.
1 roasting chicken, capon or small turkey (5 ½ to 6 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
Sherry (dry or medium), 1 tablespoon + 1 cup
½ pound ground pork or pork sausage
1 ½ ounces chopped serrano ham
1 cup chopped dry fruits (raisins, apricots, prunes, figs)
Olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
½ cup diced apple
½ teaspoon pimentón (paprika)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
Grating of fresh nutmeg
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Truffles, diced (optional)
1 tablespoon capers (optional)
½ -1 cup chicken stock

Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of the Sherry to the cavity. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature.

Combine the pork, ham and dried fruits in a bowl with ¼ cup Sherry. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet and toast the pine nuts until golden. Skim them out. Add the onions to the skillet and sauté on medium heat until softened, 3 minutes. Add the onions to the meat with the pine nuts, bread crumbs, apple, pimentón, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, parsley, truffles and capers, if using, 1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper. Combine well.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Stuff the chicken with the mixture of meat and dried fruits. Skewer the neck and body openings closed and truss the chicken with kitchen twine. Place in a heavy roasting pan or in a large skillet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Roast the chicken for 40 minutes. Add ½ cup Sherry and ½ cup chicken stock to the roasting pan. Spoon some of the juices over the chicken. Roast 40 minutes more, basting occasionally. Add ¼ cup additional Sherry and more stock, if needed. Roast 20 minutes more or until internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 140ºF when tested with an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest at least 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and scoop the stuffing into a serving bowl. Skim the fat off the remaining pan juices. Spoon some of the juices over the chicken and serve the rest in a bowl.


  1. Hi Janet, I've been following your blog for a few weeks, partly because my family (my wife and 2 yr old son) will be going to spend about 7 weeks in the Malaga region in Feb-March to get away from the brutal cold we've been having here in Canada. Strangely, I'm cooking a beautiful organic pastured turkey for Sunday dinner tomorrow (we were sick over the holiday season). A few questions:

    1-how long do you suggest we cook the unstuffed turkey/pound at 350?

    2-our home base will be in the old town part of malaga but we will be exploring the region on foot/train/bike/car. Where do we find good organic produce and pastured eggs and meat and dairy? It's not obvious from my cursory googling.


    1. Dan: More and more organic produce available in Malaga area. A monthly market and online ordering from For general info, see Diario Sur or Sur in English newspapers online. My turkey roasting info is out of date. Sorry.

  2. Hi Janet, thanks for the info. Online ordering fruit and veg baskets through that farm is ideal for us and exactly the way we do it at home. Having access to pastured eggs (expensive though) is critical since they represent a big part of our 2 year old's diet. And the pastured turkey turned out great! Take care. Dan Lisa and Hendrik

  3. Here is an online delivery service for organic products including pastured eggs. Eggs are expensive by our standards but everything else is an excellent value.