Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Indoor Barbecued Chicken with Cornbread Stuffing Balls

My bird, with its initial coat of sauce. Note the clean pan.

Here on the west coast of the Evergreen State, we refer to the sixth month as “June-uary”—apt, because of the incessant rain, chill and gloom that also perpetuates the turn of the year.  But what’s a Seattle girl craving BBQ to do while her friends in the Midwest bask in the glorious sun of early summer? Proving that when the cook is ready, the recipe will appear, here comes Indoor Barbecued Chicken with Cornbread Stuffing Balls! Yee-haw!

This “quick and easy summer dish” comes courtesy of the late, great McCall’s magazine. McCall’s, founded in 1873, had the distinction of being America’s oldest women’s magazine. In a bizarre twist of journalistic fate, Rosie O’Donnell took over the reins in 2001, changed the name to Rosie, and drove it into the ground a year later.

But this recipe harkens back to happier, dare I say “rosier” times. It’s not really a recipe, per se, as much as two simple steps: Put a chicken in a roasting pan and brush it with barbecue sauce. My preferred sauce is a homemade version heavy on the bourbon, but really, who has the time on a weeknight? For store-bought sauce, you cannot fail with Rufus Teague Honey Sweet. You’ll pay a little more to have Rufus T. do the heavy lifting, but it is money well spent.

My muffin batter -- and my fatally flawed purchase in the background.
While the grey skies threatened rain, the chicken roasted, filling my chilly home with the comforting scent of a July potluck.  I moved on to the next step, already grinning like a fool, so great is my love of cornbread.

Uh, cornbread stuffing balls? After dumping in my creamed corn, onion and sage, the batter was decidedly loose – way too loose to form any kind of free-form stuffing ball. I scooped the batter into lined muffin tins, but, with the roasting chicken hogging all the space in my oven, I had a dilemma. I decided to wait until the chicken was resting and then pop in the muffins, cursing the decision not to install a dual oven when we remodeled 12 years ago. (Although, this would only have been approximately the second time I really needed it.)

And then, as I stared down at my raw muffins, I realized my fatal mistake – instead of cornbread muffin mix, the recipe stated cornbread stuffing mix—like Stove Top – which must’ve been why I clipped this recipe in the first place.  (I still fondly recall those Stove Top commercials that featured one chipper fellow accepting his friend’s invitation to stay to dinner because “they’re having Stove Top!”) The fact that Stove Top didn’t make it into my shopping cart, but Jiffy Cornbread Muffin mix did, may provide a clue as to which I purchase more frequently.

Pretty good -- but not what McCall's intended.
So, my cornbread balls were, in fact, corny cornbread muffins. A pleasant-enough side dish, but I will need to revisit the original, intended version. Stay tuned.

The meat took much longer to cook than the stated one-and-a-half hours. At the one-hour mark, my thermometer only hit the low 100s, so I cranked the oven up to 400. It took another hour and change to hit the magic 165 degrees.  But, what a surprise! It actually looked like it’d been on the grill. It was moist and delicious. A final slather of Rufus Teague sauce and I could have sworn it was August. Or 75 degrees. Or both.

I came down from my faux-summer high when I took a look at the roasting pan. Oh dear God, the roasting pan. Hubby and I did the rest of the dishes and optimistically filled the pan with hot water and dish soap and set it “to soak” while we went about the rest of our business. There it sits. Still. Do yourself a favor. Use a disposable pan, or, line the roaster with foil. Anything to avoid the scrub-a-thon that you will endure if you don’t.

A June-uary miracle!
Indoor Barbecued Chicken with Cornbread Stuffing Balls
5-lb. ready-to-cook roasting chicken
1 cup bottled barbecue sauce
1 pkg (8 oz.) cornbread-stuffing mix
1 can (15 or 16 oz.) cream-style corn
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
2. Wash chicken under cold running water, dry well with paper towels. Place on rack in large roasting pan. Tie legs together, twist wing tips under body.
3. Brush with 1/3 cup barbecue sauce. Roast, uncovered, 1-1/2 hours. (If chicken starts to become too brown after 1 hour, place sheet of foil lightly over top.)
4. Meanwhile, making stuffing balls. Prepare cornbread stuffing as package label directs, substituting corn for water called for and adding onion and sage. Form into 10 balls; place around chicken. Bake with chicken 30 minutes longer.
5. Place chicken on platter; brush with rest of barbecue sauce. Arrange stuffing balls around chicken. Garnish with parsley springs, if desires. Makes 6 servings.
 ·      I skipped Step 2 in its entirety.
·      I used 1 T. chopped fresh sage in the cornbread. My sage is growing like a weed and it would have been criminal not to have used some of the bounty.
·      The recipe says to cook the bird at 350 degrees for a total of two hours. In my experience, there is no way you will reach a food-safe temperature of 165-degrees using those coordinates. Stay at 350 if you’ve got time to spare, but count on at least another hour. Crank the oven up to 400 if you don’t. Either way, I definitely recommend covering the bird with foil after the first hour.
 ·      I found an additional 3/4 cup of sauce brushed on at the end to be overkill. Use what you like.
·      Yes, yes, I know: People the country over use their gas-grills year round. In my house, though, we’re charcoal purists. More to the point, it’s just not fun to stand in the rain, shivering, while trying to cultivate a carefree, BBQ mood.

Why Don’t You …
·      Cut up your bird (or have your butcher do it) – thereby ensuring a faster cook time.
·      It bears repeating: Line your pan with foil or use a disposable pan.
·      Make “real” barbecue chicken if you’re one of the lucky ones and are actually enjoying barbecue weather.

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