Preserving family heirlooms such as recipes, pictures, trinkets, and stories can be very import to some of you one day. They have been known to comfort people when they are experiencing a difficult time in their life, when they are sick, or as we enter our elderly years. I encourage each one of you to document and copy your memories for your children, grand children and great grand children. Saving pans and old dishes is a beautiful way to serve an heirloom recipe.Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays because my mom always made such a beautiful dinner. She used a Betty Crocker cookbook for as long as I can remember. I modified Betty Crockers 1950's recipe for the stuffing. I love turkey and enjoy cooking a beautiful meal for family and guest to eat.
For the holidays I usually have family and a few guest, but this year it was just my husband and I. It was not practical to make a large dinner, but I wanted to enjoy the holiday spirit so I decided to make a turkey using just the legs and wings but it did not turn out as I had expected so I tried my method using a chicken instead.
This instructable shares how I made a fancy chicken dinner using limited kitchen resources and a few ingredients, having leftovers for one or for two servings. Because I did not have instructions to go by it is hard to say exactly how long it took from start to finish, but it was less than 2 hours total and that was figuring out the recipe and the layout. I think 15 minutes prep and 1 hour baking. My guess though. Considering the outcome, I thought the dinner was amazing for the amount of time and effort I put into it. Lets get started.
Step 1: Ingredients and Utensils
Ingredients for the chicken:
2 Chicken wings (make sure they are right and left side) I forgot and did not save the correct wings to match the body of the chicken.
2 chicken legs
2 Tablespoons of butter
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Poultry seasoning to taste
Thyme to taste
Your choice of salt To taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Ingredients for the Stuffing for the chicken body:
1 box of stuffing mix or make the recipe below.
5 cups soft old bread crumbs cubed.
2 Celery stalks chopped.
1 Medium onion chopped.
Approximately 1- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock canned or homemade. Please note: I started out with 1/2 cup and it was not enough so I am not sure how much more I had to add. This is an estimate.
Craisins to taste optional
4 Tablespoons real butter and (extra for cooking celery and onions) add olive oil to the butter to prevent the butter from browning.
Poultry seasoning, dried or fresh thyme, salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. I recommend pink salt or sea salt to receive the best nutritional benefits from the natural minerals.
I modified Betty Crocker's stuffing recipe by reducing the ingredients to make a much smaller portion and added Craisins, olive oil replacing a ton of butter and replaced the water with homemade chicken broth.
Extra Ingredients for the chicken body:
1 medium size russet potato.
1/4 Cup frozen peas, corn,or diced carrots.
Garnishes you prefer:
I used an orange, small tomatoes,cooked squash, fresh rosemary,and fresh dark greens.
Basic utensils were used: Cast iron skillet with oven safe lid but any multi purpose cooker would probably work, crock pot, or I used the stove top and oven,aluminium foil, spoons,fork, knife, bowls, cutting board, scissors to cut the skewer, tooth picks, and skewers to attach the legs.
Step 2: Preparations
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash potato and poke a hole in it to vent it.
Place the potato in the oven with or without aluminium foil.
Bake 30-45 minutes. About half way done.
If you have not already washed and chopped the celery and onions do so now.
Place raw chicken on a plate and dry it with a paper towel or napkin. This will make the skins crispy.
Place butter and olive oil into a skillet and melt the butter.
Step 3: Saute Celery and Onions
Saute the celery and onions in the butter and olive oil and cook for several minutes then . . .
Add the chicken broth or water to the mixture and season according to taste.
Cook until the onions and celery are translucent.
While this mixture is cooking rub olive oil all over the chicken legs and wings.
If the skins are not covering the legs, use toothpicks to secure the loose skin for appearance. I should have waited to season the chicken until after I used the toothpicks.
Season the legs and wings.
Remove the celery and onions from the heat without the broth and set aside.
Place the broth into a separate bowl.
If you decide to cook the stuffing and chicken all at the same time, then go on to the next step and season the chicken how you like . . . otherwise follow these instructions the way I made our chicken.
In a clean skillet, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the raw chicken. Start cooking the chicken browning on both sides. You may wish to add more seasonings to the chicken along the way.When the chicken is half way cooked remove it from the heat. . . and to attach them to the chicken body. If it takes longer than 5 or ten minutes to add it to the body of the chicken, I would go ahead and fully cook the chicken to prevent Salmonella. You can add the legs and wings to the chicken's body after the dressing has been baked, by using the skewers and the tin foil for support. Remove the tooth picks. It does not take very long at all to position the chicken pieces to shape the body of the chicken and as soon as the body is formed it goes immediately back into the hot oven. Be safe and be smart, pay close attention to how long the chicken has been out of the oven. It is best to cook the chicken all the way through than to risk getting sick.
Step 4: Dressing
If you will be making a box mix just follow the instructions for making the mix except you will use the stuffing to form the shape of a chicken and then bake it in the oven or multi purpose cookware.
If you will be making the stuffing recipe, the instructions are:
4-5 cups of soft bread crumbs (cubed) preferably older bread.
Gently mix the celery and onion mixture with the bread crumbs.
Add water or chicken stock, a little at a time until the dressing will form a ball without falling apart. Add more stock or more bread as needed to form a ball that will keep its form. I made my own stock from scratch.
Form the chicken body in the next step.
Check on the potato if you haven't already, you need it for the next step.
Step 5: Assemble Chicken
Method: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
Remove some of the bake potato using a spoon as shown in the picture.
Place aluminium foil over a cutting board or heavy piece of cardboard overlapping the sides. The foil will firm up the chicken's body so it can be transferred into a skillet or multi purpose cookware using the edges of the foil for hand grips.
Place the potato in the center of the cutting board over the foil.
Pick up a handful of the dressing and begin to form the chicken's body with the dressing mixture.
Lay the chicken legs and wings along the side of the chicken dressing form; making sure you have the right and left wings on the correct side.
Place a skewer through the chicken legs and push the legs slightly into the body of the chicken.
Trim off the extra length of the skewer; so it won't be in the way of the tin foil when you position the chicken into the skillet.
Tie the legs together using the bakers twine for a nice presentation.
Position the chicken wings in place and press up against the body of the chicken so that they are not going to move. Position the wings pretty. Stabilize the wings with a skewer if needed. I did not use anything.
Carefully lift the chicken into the skillet and position the wings if needed; making sure they are attached to the sides of the chicken so during the cooking process the dressing will act as a bond to keep the wings into place when you remove the chicken from the skillet.
Cover the skillet with foil or an oven proof lid that won't mash the bird.
If baking squash, place it into the oven. I did not use a baking dish for it and placed it directly on the oven rack. Bake until it is done and then remove it from the oven. Timing is the key element for making this recipe so everything is finished baking at the same time. My turkey legs were too large for the amount of dressing I made so I had to make an adjustment by making chicken legs which were much smaller or increasing the amount of dressing I would be making. The chicken legs were perfect for this recipe.
Set the timer for 20 minutes and check the bird. Check the inside temperature of the dressing and the meat every fifteen minutes until done. If I am correct the internal temperature should be at least 165-170 degrees F for several minutes to destroy any bacteria.Remove the aluminium foil the last fifteen minutes of the cooking time to brown the chicken and dressing. The dressing takes about 30 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered to cook. This is a good base point to estimate how long to cook a chicken leg according to your preference. We cook ours very well done so I can't give you an idea other than what I mentioned. I usually cook whole chickens.
Step 6: Arrange Platter
Lay the platter on the table.
Position the dark greens along the outer edges of the platter as shown.
Cut the garnishes into pretty shapes but do not arrange them on the platter until after the chicken is centered on the platter.
When the chicken is done, allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Carefully center the chicken on the platter and tuck the aluminium foil under the chicken so it does not show.
Remove the skewers and double check to make sure the tooth picks are removed. I did not get any pictures when I removed the skewers.
Add the rest of the garnishes if you are using them.
Step 7: Serve
Crank up some festive music and light the candles and enjoy your holiday meal~
Step 8: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts
This recipe is easy to make and does not require a lot of ingredients to make it a fancy affair. It is healthy and delicious~ perfect for a single person or couple who do not wish to make a full holiday meal with all the trimmings. Even a college student who wants to impress their date and has limited kitchen resources could make this if they had a multi cooker. I will be making another turkey platter before Christmas and will share how I made it with you if it is a success. This was such a fun cooking project.
Thanks so much for stopping by . . . be safe and happy~