Chicken is one of my all time favorite foods. It’s quite versatile, and it’s always a delight to find a new way of presenting it or a new technique that gives a different result.
This recipe is unusual for me in that it comes off of a website rather than from a printed book. It was wonderful to have access to so much reference when my own books were packed.
This time, due to a confluence of events and a freshly restocked spice rack, I decided to use a recipe from the Medieval Cookery site(1), the same recipe also appears on Godecookery. (2)
Farsure if Chekyn is a window into the cook’s daily life. It requires an already cooked piece of pork as a stuffing for a chicken, and leaves the cook with a nice quantity of rich broth for the next day’s cooking. This planned economy, with building and consuming resources as they come available and preparing for the needs of the next day is quite a pleasure. Recipes almost demand to be made when the components are the natural leftovers from the preparations of the day before.
That said, it is also a rather pot-intensive dish. While a manor hall would have had a pot for simmering and a spit for roasting ready much of the time, in a modern home that means dirty pots.
Serve with blancmange and asparagus, or green beans amandine, or whatever suits you
1 small chicken
1 pound of chopped pork (or turkey, which is faboo also)
¼ c Currants (the raisin kind, not blackcurrants)
2-3 hard boiled egg yolks.
1 TBS salt, divided
1 raw egg yolk
1 pint and 1 quart of water.
1 cutting board
1 small boning knife
1 or 2 simmering pots. (if one, you will need to wash it out between processes)
1 roasting pan
parchment or foil for pan, if you wishh
1 sturdy pot-spoon (for turning the chicken in the simmer pot)
Put the saffron into a tablespoon of tepid-to-warm water. Allow it to sit for at least a little while.
Crush or grind any whole spices, run them through a small strainer to make sure there are no chunks.
Reserve a teaspoon or so of salt for the chicken.
Bone the insides of the chicken if you wish, as much or as little as you feel comfortable doing. This allows more stuffing and easier carving later, as well as the use of the bones in broth.
If the currants are dried out, put them into the simmering pan with the pint of water, on low heat. Allow them to become gently hydrated.
Crush the yolks and spices together while the currants simmer and the saffron mellows.
Put the ground meat into the simmering pot, with the pint of water and the currants and drop all of the spices in. Fold together until the meat loses it’s pinkness but does not begin to crumble.
( Put the meat into a bowl to reserve it, if needed, and wash the pot.)
Stuff the chicken with the blended, parcooked meat mixture, and truss it well to keep the stuffing where we want it.
Bring the quart of water into the second pot, and allow it to simmer (bubbles breaking surface, but rising gently)
Turn the oven on to *400. Prepare the baking tray, I like to use parchment paper.
Lower the bird into the simmering water, wait til the skin changes color and the chicken meat begins to look as though it is beginning to think about cooking. It took me about 15 minutes of careful cooking, from beginning to end.
Turn the bird in the simmering pot as cautiously as possible, trying not to break the skin.
When the bird is evenly poached, but nowhere close to cooked through, remove it to the baking tray.
Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt on the breast, and pop it into the oven.
(At this point, I put the bones I removed from the chicken into the simmering water, and allow it to cook to make a light broth)
Roast for 30 minutes, then remove the chicken and endore with the egg yolk. Place back in the oven to finish roasting.
When your meat thermometer tells you it is time, pull the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Check the stuffing temp as well, it needs to be the same 165 as the chicken for safety.
Serve with blancmange and asparagus, or green beans amandine, or whatever suits you, but do make the effort to try this one. It’s too fussy for most event halls, but it deserves to be appreciated.