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I just returned from a business trip to Russia, to find that summer has — at long last! — come to an end in Indiana.  The air finally feels like autumn, free from the traces of summer’s humidity that hang around far longer than the chirping cicadas.  The leaves are beginning to change color, and crunch beneath my feet on the sidewalk.  And the days remain chilly, despite the sun’s best attempts to burn off the frost.  So after a jet lag-induced early rise this morning, an outing to my neighborhood bakery, and a stop at the market, I was ready for a warm, hearty autumn supper.

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This one-pan meal was the perfect fix for my craving, and it couldn’t be easier to pull together.  While the final product tastes like a day-long labor of love, it takes less than two hours from start to table.  This is a wonderful fall or winter meal, and even works for weeknights.

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Since the chicken is butterflied, it will cook faster and more evenly — plus, all of the skin gets irresistably crispy!  I roast the chicken directly above the stuffing so that the drippings soak into the bread, providing a deep, rich flavor to round out the sweet pears.  And while gorgonzola — well, cheese in general — is not a common stuffing ingredient, it adds a creaminess that takes stuffing to the next level.

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Lemon-Rosemary Roast Chicken over Pear & Gorgonzola Stuffing

Makes 4-6 servings | 30 minutes prep + 70 minutes cook time

Ingredients

  • butter (for roasting pan)
  • 7 C day-old French bread cubes (~1/3″x1/3″x1/3″)*
  • 2 small pears, cored and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • leaves from one sprig rosemary, very finely chopped
  • handful fresh parsley leaves, very finely chopped
  • half handful fresh sage leaves, very finely chopped
  • 4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • coarse salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 whole sprig rosemary

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter a small roasting pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine bread cubes, pears, celery, onion, garlic, rosemary leaves, parsley, sage, gorgonzola, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Toss to combine.
  3. Drizzle chicken broth over bread cube mixture, and stir to coat bread evenly with broth.
  4. Spread stuffing mixture evenly across roasting pan.  Place roasting rack into pan, over the stuffing.
  5. Butterfly the chicken by removing the backbone.  Rinse and pat dry.  Place skin side up onto roasting rack.
  6. Halve the lemon.  Lightly squeeze a bit of lemon juice onto chicken.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle coarse salt onto chicken.  Place whole sprig rosemary onto chicken.
  7. Place lemon halves, cut side up, onto roasting rack.
  8. Cover roasting rack tightly with aluminum foil, and roast for 55 minutes or until chicken internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  9. Switch oven to a low broil, remove aluminum foil, and place roasting pan on low oven rack (not right up close to broiler).  Broil for 10-15 minutes or until chicken skin is golden, and lemons have slightly caramelized.
  10. To serve, squeeze roasted lemons onto carved/pulled chicken, and sprinkle with coarse salt.  I also recommend you mix the stuffing together for a more consistent texture, because the center portion (directly under the chicken) may be wetter than the outer regions (directly exposed to broiler), depending on the size of your pan and chicken.

* If you do not have day-old bread, spread your bread cubes onto a baking sheet and toast in 250°F oven for 10-15 minutes.

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