Monday, March 7, 2011

Chicken with Linguisa Stuffings

I love making chicken with linguisa stuffings. The recipe was created by chance one day while I was making stuffed mushrooms for a party last summer. Read from a cooking magazine about stuffed chicken leg quarters with saute mushrooms, which I thought was a good idea. I have tried out the original recipe from the cooking magazine but find that the flavor of mushrooms stuffed in the chicken leg quarters was bland. Plus, the moistures release by the mushrooms during the grilling process makes the chicken leg rather watery despite the fact that we cook it on the grill.

Instead of stuffing the chicken with mushrooms, I replicate the stuffings used in the stuffed mushrooms recipe, courtesy of our family friend, Angela, and added in Linguisa. The result was a sure hit with our family and friends. Everyone loves the slight hint of bite from the linguisa while the use of Ritz crackers as the stuffing ingredients added a nice buttery flavor to the overall dish without using much butter in the dish. The recipe can also be used to make stuffed chicken breast, all you need is skewers to hold the stuffings in place.

Chicken with Linguisa Stuffings
4 pieces chicken leg quarters, deboned or 4 boneless chicken breast
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

For the Stuffings
2 sleeves Ritz crackers or any butter-flavor crackers (about 1/2 lb or 240gm)
1/2 lb linguisa, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp dried parsley or 2 Tbsp of fresh chopped parsley
3 Tbsp grated romano cheese (can be substitute with Parmesan Cheese)
1/4 cup of chicken stock or water
1/2 tsp black pepper

Step 1: Season de-boned chicken leg quarters or boneless chicken breast with salt and pepper. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Step 2: Prepare the stuffings. Using a rolling pin and bag or a food processor, crush the Ritz crackers to make fine crumbs. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add in 2 Tbsp of olive oil and butter. Saute the linguisa till golden brown. Add in the onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery. Cook for a few minutes till the onion is translucent and the bell pepper has softened. Add in parsley and black pepper. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Step 3: Add in saute ingredients to cracker crumbs in a large bowl. Stir in romano cheese. Mix to combine. Add in chicken stock or water to moisten stuffings. Leave aside to cool completely.
Note: Stuffings only need to be moist enough but not too wet. Gather a small amount of stuffings in your hand and tighten your hand into a fist. If stuffings clump together without falling apart, then the stuffings is ready. It is important that you let the stuffings to cool completely before stuffing the chicken.

Step 4: Using a plastic wrap and mallet, pound chicken breast, if using, lightly till flat.

 Step 5: Divide the stuffings into 4 portions. Shape the stuffings into a ball. Pat to level on chicken breast. Using a skewer, fold one end of the chicken breast to seal. Hold it together with a skewer. Repeat with the other side.

The stuffings should sit securely on the chicken breast. To stuff the chicken leg, simply push the stuffings into the chicken leg's cavity left by the bone. Pull the skin to cover the stuffings. Use a skewer to hold the skin in place.

Step 6: Preheat oven to 400F or 204C. In a large pan, heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the chicken, skin side down till golden brown.
Step 7: Remove with two spatulas onto a baking sheet lined with wire racks. The top side is still raw. Drip remaining grease from the pan onto chicken. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn on the convection oven function in your oven or speed bake option, depending on the setting of your oven. Let chicken bake for another 5 minutes till skin is crispy.

Served with vegetable and rice or potatoes.

Note: You can grill the chicken on an outdoor grill. Just be sure to start on low heat as you want the chicken to cook without burning it. It took me 40 minutes on the grill to ensure that everything is cooked evenly. If you are using skin-on chicken, I will recommend baking it in the oven as the fat dripping from the skin can easily cause flare up on the grill.

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