Monday, October 4, 2010

Crab-Stuffed Chicken

This is unbelievably good. When it was cooking, our mouths were all watering. Son the lawyer, who had a date with his fiancee and the Notre Dame-Boston College game, was sorry he couldn't stay and eat with us.
I think it must have been the sherry. When I was 22 I went to Europe for six months. I learned various things, including not to shoot one's mouth off in a letter to one's olders and betters, because one will never hear the end of it. One of the best things I learned in Madrid in a whole series of little bars around the Plaza Mayor was to drink sherry. My mother used to put sherry in soup and other things. I remember one Christmas Eve when the adults had Lobster Thermadore. We could smell the sherry in the sauce. The sherry gave a wonderful rich smell to the sauce.
The title of the recipe is somewhat misleading. I'm always complaining about the names of these recipes. Since it involves chicken quarters, the chicken is not stuffed. It's actually chicken lying in a bed of crab stuffing. Those of you who think stuffing is complicated and messy, think no more. Just make the stuffing, bake the chicken for 35 minutes, then fill the pan with stuffing and put the chicken on top.
This seems to be a recipe from the days when Nature's Bounty really was nature's bounty. Crabs filled the Chesapeake Bay. If you wanted to try a new recipe, you threw out the crab pot at the end of the dock, and hoisted it a couple of hours later, full of struggling crabs. Crab was cheap. Well, I don't know if it's a result of the BP oil spill or what, but crab is not cheap. It's mindblowing to realize that one has dropped $20 on the stuffing for dinner. Makes me feel like Daddy Warbucks.
This calls for two chickens to feed four people. The cookbook says "two and a half to three pound chickens." That was before chickens started pumping iron and taking steroids to look like Mark McGuire. The smallest chicken available was five pounds, a young chicken. So two of today's chickens are plenty to feed six people.
This has to bake for 70 minutes, so plan accordingly.

Crab Stuffed Chicken

1/4 cup plus two tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
2 two-and-one-half-pound to three-pound chickens, split
1/2 pound of mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry1/8 ta
1/4 cup catchup
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

3 slices stale white bread cut into very small pieces (A small box of Stovetop Stuffing did nicely, since I would have had to have bought white bread and let it sit around for weeks in order for it to get stale.)
5 tablespoons heavy cream
12 ounces crab meat, picked over to remove bits of shell and cartilage
1/4 cup melted butter
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt (Don't use so much. It doesn't need it.)
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/4 teaspoon sage

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. To prepare chicken, mix two tablespoons of the butter with the salt, pepper and paprika. Rub the chicken pieces with the mixture and place, skin side up, wings tuckedunder, in a single layer in a baking dish. Bake 35 minutes.
3. Heat remaining butter and saute the mushrooms in it. Add the sherry, catchup and parsley. Soon one tablespoon butter mixture over each chicken half and bake 10 minutes longer.
4. Meanwhile, to prepare stuffing, combine the ingredients in a bowl.
5. Turn chicken pieces over and stuff with crab stuffing. Spoon remaining butter mushroom mixture over all and bake thirty minutes lonver, or until chicken is tender.

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