The Internet doesn’t need another roast chicken recipe. Does it?

Roast chicken with walnut stuffing (12 of 14)In just 0.24 of a second, Google found me thirteen million, six hundred thousand roast chicken recipes. Surely, that’s enough for you to be getting on with? So, I should just leave things here. I shouldn’t bother buying a top quality, free range, Irish chicken. With that many recipes out there, there is little purpose. It would be a waste of time. There is no point in selecting some fine olive oil to bind the stuffing ingredients. It’s a fool’s errand getting my hands on some delicious and nutritious walnuts. No matter what I do, somebody has done it before. Those Google lads have all those recipes in their rows and rows of filing cabinets. Why should I waste my time, lovingly slicing onions, zesting a lemon and delicately plucking sage leaves from their woody branches? It would be very silly of me to lay my hands on some very finely sliced streaky bacon to drape across the decollage of the plump naked bird. All that so I can give those chaps over in Google another recipe and some more photos to add to the prodigious filing pile. It’s no wonder their office in Dublin is so big. 

There’s no point. It’s all been done before. However, if I only cooked totally original recipes, I wouldn’t be cooking very much. So at the risk of comments like “Saw it over on the Food Network.” or “That’s just how my gran used to cook a chicken.” I give you my Roast Chicken with Walnut and Sage Stuffing recipe.

I could just as easily have downloaded it from the internet. Nothing original here.

I could just as easily have downloaded it from the internet. Nothing original here.

The ingredients list won’t come as any shock to you. You have seen it all before.

  • 1 top quality free range chicken.
  • 3 tablespoons of the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford.
  • 2  plump onions.
  • 200 grammes of walnuts
  • 150 grammes of breadcrumbs
  • 5 rashers of thinly sliced streaky bacon
  • 1 good quality lemon.
  • 1 handful of fresh sage leaves.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Cooking twine and a big needle.

At the risk of boring you all to tears, here’s the onions after I sliced them. If you are in tears, blame the onions.

It'll bring a tear to your eye. I get emotional when I slice onions.

It’ll bring a tear to your eye. I get emotional when I slice onions.

Slice the sage into small pieces.

Showing shots of everything makes this recipe more original - Right?

Showing shots of everything makes this recipe more original – Right?

Sweat the onions in a pan until they become translucent. While this is going on, roughly crush the walnuts.

I used the bowl in which I stored them to crush the walnuts. Very inventive and original.

I used the bowl in which I stored them to crush the walnuts. Very inventive and original.

Then add the walnuts, breadcrumbs, onions and zest of the lemon to a big mixing bowl.

The lemon zest adds a lovely original zing to this recipe. Nobody else could have thought of that, could they?

The lemon zest adds a lovely original zing to this recipe. Nobody else could have thought of that, could they?

Season the stuffing generously, and give it a good mixing around while adding the olive oil. This will add flavour and also help to make the stuffing more manageable.

The stuffing doesn't look much but, it is really tasty. Original and tasty, that is.

The stuffing doesn’t look much but, it is really tasty. Original and tasty, that is.

Prepare the bird by removing the lumps of fat just inside the cavity. I have spared you a photo of that. Next, ram great clumps of the stuffing into the bird. Shove it in without ceremony. When I stuff a bird, it stays stuffed!

Yes, there is always room for some more. Jam it in there!

Yes, there is always room for some more. Jam it in there!

Close over the flaps and stitch up the opening. We don’t want the stuffing falling back out.

Side note on cooking stuffing: I have read about cooking stuffing. Numerous chefs recommend cooking the stuffing separately. To my mind, this is total nonsense. Firstly, there is a clue in the name “Stuffing”. Secondly, as the bird cooks, the chicken flavour and juices get into the stuffing and the stuffing flavour suffuses the flesh of the chicken. That is the object of the exercise. If you believe that you will wipe out your family because you don’t know how to roast a stuffed chicken, you should not be let into the kitchen in the first place. 

It's a stitch up job. My sewing technique is certainly original, even if the recipe isn't.

It’s a stitch up job. My sewing technique is certainly original, even if the recipe isn’t.

Drape the bird with the bacon. This is to keep the chicken moist. It has the added benefit of providing flavour and the bonus of having a nice few bits of crispy bacon to go with the chicken.

Oven ready stuffed chicken. How could I claim this to be original?

Oven ready stuffed chicken. How could I claim this to be original?

Place the bird into a preheated 200ºC oven. Depending on the size of the bird, it will need to be in there for between an hour and a half and two hours. Mine was a 2.2kg bird before stuffing and was cooked to perfection in one and three-quarter hours. After an hour and a half, I removed the bacon to allow the crown to brown.

This is a 100% original photo. Nobody else could have made such a mess!

This is a 100% original photo. Nobody else could have made such a mess!

I let the chicken rest for 15 minutes while I made a simple gravy using the roasting tin, salt, pepper, flour and some of the tin juices. The roast chicken with walnut and sage stuffing was fantastic. The recipe is my own. It may and may not be original. Go Google it, if you wish. I’m sure that a few million other versions are hidden away in those big Google filing cabinets (under C for chicken recipes, with a lot of duplication under R for roast chicken). They probably have the stuffing cooked in aluminium foil, in a separate oven, for safety. I encourage you to live dangerously, stuff the bird! But, read my footnotes.

A really delicious, hearty meal. Original or not, it's worth giving it a go.

A really delicious, hearty meal. Original or not, it’s worth giving it a go.

Footnote on poultry safety: In case you think I have lost my marbles and am promoting risky cooking, I’m not. If you are cooking chicken, be sure that it’s cooked properly. You can do this be using a meat thermometer. I won’t tell you what temperature is safe. That seems to vary from country to country, for some strange reason.  I use two methods to check for doneness. One involves jiggling the leg of the bird. If it moves pretty freely in the hip joint, it’s done. The other method is to stick a fork into the thick part of the leg. If it runs clear (no blood), it’s done too. Jiggle and poke, it works for me. 

Footnote on washing poultry: For some totally daft reason, food hygienists used to recommend washing poultry before cooking. On the face of it, this seems to make sense as it would be pretty silly to wash it after cooking. However, we live in enlightened times. The current advice is to not wash the bird at all. You will spread all manner of dire consequences around your kitchen if you do. In short, don’t wash the chicken. Stuff it, then roast it.

Final footnote on poultry related hygiene: In the course of preparing this chicken, I washed my hands seven times. I also washed down every work surface that came into contact with either me or the chicken. Better safe than sorry. I believe one can be very sorry.

I wonder, do Google wash the filing cabinets?

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Latest comments
  • That looks like a fine bird! I’m completely with you on the stuffing – I want the flavours to mingle. That’s very good stuffing too! 😉

  • I’m fascinated by your little zesting gadget! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like that before. And I, too, agree with you on the stuffing. I’ve been stuffing birds for years and never once have gotten sick. (touch wood)

    • It’s a fantastic yoke. It has four joined up circles that manage to grab whatever is proudest on the skin and peel it off without taking any pith. (“Not taking the pith” has to be the basis of a joke.). Keep stuffing.

  • Jiggling, poking and stuffing a good looking bird are highly recommended

    • For once, Gilly, I really don’t know what to say. My wife reads this too!

  • Yup. That’s a fine chook. I’m a great fan of a simple roasted bird. And I’m with you on the sage, salt and olive oil. OK,I’ll stop now, because the drooling is becoming slightly problematic…

    • Drooling is good Kate. This is not my first roast chicken recipe here either. I am just adding to my own little pile of chicken recipes on Google.

  • Yes. Yes the internet does. Especially a chicken recipe that involves bacon and this stuffing. Wow!

    • Thanks Debbie,
      When you put it that way, it’s obvious that the Internet can suffer at least one more…

  • Lovely. That is a fine-looking bird. I like stuffings both ways, in and out of the bird but not for reasons of hygiene – I just like it to be crispy round the edges sometimes. Like the addition of the walnuts. Lx

    • Good call Linda. The crispy bits are a good thought. Though, if one really stuffs the bird, the stretched skin gets stuck with stuffing and one has a double pleasure of crispy skin on one side and stuffing on the other, held together with a caramelised layer of deliciousness.

  • You only cut off the feet?? Here in the States we cut the lower leg off at the joint and don’t have those funny little stubs sticking up. What a delicious looking chicken…yum.

    • Thanks Pat,
      It depends on the bird here. The extra bit of leg is handy when tying them together around a stuffed gut. Most of our chickens would be trimmed in a similar way to yours.

  • Now I want to make this lovely meal this weekend. Looks so good I can almost smell it! I’m going to harvest a nice fat hen from my flock this evening and have it ready to prepare this weekend!

    • Lucky you having the stock on tap. Let me know how it turns out. I was very happy with it.

  • This looks amazing Conor! Another recipe that is a must try! Be well… ^..^

    • Thanks Barb,
      It is simple and straightforward. All one needs to do is to make about twice as much stuffing as you think you will need. Then force the bird to accept it all.

      • I liked what you wrote about stuffing being just that: stuffing! It does not make sense to make stuffing and then not stuff it.

        • I’m glad I’m not on my own. The food safety police would have us wrap the stuffing in foil and bake it to carbon.

          • And, no one likes carbon food do they? Except for the authors and authorities of baking stuffing in foil.

  • To me a walnut and sage stuffing is original and sounds delicious. I agree with you on the ridiculousness of cooking stuffing separately. I think it has to do with the fact that American Thanksgiving turkey is often inedibly dry, so everyone only wants to eat the stuffing and then there is not enough stuffing if you only cook it inside the bird.
    It is a good think you didn’t put egg in the stuffing, because your bird is stuffed so full that it would have exploded. No such risk with the stuffing you used.

    • Thanks Stefan. Though it would have been funny to find an exploded chicken in the oven. Funny until I had to clean it off….

  • I take your point about originality, Conor, and so there is literally no point in me commenting here. In fact, I did some research, and while there hasn’t been a truly original chicken recipe on the internet since 2003, there hasn’t been an original comment on it since 1997, when somebody LOLed for the first time. On a side note, I learned several things from this recipe, not least on the philosophy of stuffing, which given the rest of this comment, plunges me into an existentialist crisis. Welcome home.

    • Thanks Tara,
      If coming home means I can read more of your wit and wisdom here, I will go away (and come back) more often. In fact, given that you have said that you see no point in commenting, I then, by dint of logic, should not be typing this.

      Should I?

      No need to reply. I know I shouldn’t.

  • YES IT DOES CONOR! (oops I was yelling.) Because only you could present a stuffed and roasted bird in such a way that makes people smile and giggle. And I use pecans in my stuffing, have never googled roast chicken stuffing because it’s my mom”s recipe from Texas, therefore your stuffing is original to me. And GET OUTTA HERE! Bacon on the top? Never done that either. Well played Conor, well played. XOXO

    • HA! Delighted to show a Texan something new to do with bacon. That has to be a first. Mind you, you guys tend to stuff the chicken skin with butter before roasting. Adding a layer of bacon might just be going that bit too far….

  • Is this Logic 301? Roaring with laughter about your ingredient list!! The best of the best: naturellement!!! ‘Yep’ actually, ‘best’, ‘good quality’, ‘freshly ground’ and ‘wash your hands’ .all true and tested . .. . . and ‘stuffing’ surely does mean the ‘stuff’ actually enters a cavity . . . ‘0!

    • It really should Eha. But, the conservative worriers tend to get media attention when scaring us all about our food.

  • Looks a very fine roast bird. Great to see it done properly. For my part, I never bother to truss or sew any more, not caring if some of it bursts out and tumbles into the juices below. I very much like your cooking and the thing to remember is that you can’t roast a Google…it’s tasteless:)

    • The thought of not having to sew up the bird is a bit double sided for me. Yes, tumbled stuffing will really add to the gravy and taste delicious. The idiot in me likes to take photos with crude stitching in. I think they add to the overall rustic feel of the shots. Maybe I am completely fooling myself. Undoubtedly, I am!

  • I’m with you on the stuffing, sod the food police, it has to go inside the bird.Mind if I give you a little tip? Remove the wishbone before cooking, makes carving a doddle. Roast chicken would have to be my death row dish, along with a mound of buttery smooth champ, the roasting juices and shed loads of stuffing. Really enjoy reading your blog.

    • The wishbone removal is a contentious one in our house. We have always tended to make a wish based on who gets the bigger side of the wishbone in a tug of war. Not that I believe in any of that. But, just in case, the wishbone stays!

  • Thirteen million! Goodness, who would have thought. Glad you posted this one though. 🙂

  • Glad to see we agree on two things here…don’t wash the bird and definitely stuff it full! But like Roger I never sew it up. I kind of like the crispy edged bits of stuffing that is exposed to the roasting heat. I see some originality in this recipe. I’ve never made stuffing with lemon zest and walnuts, so it new to me! Great post.

    • Ill have to put the string away and try for some of the crispy stuff.

  • The internet does need this recipe! Wow! There are so many way to dress up a chicken and this one is

  • This is wonderful – not sure if I like the lovely stuffing or the writing best. I for one need a new roast chicken recipe and I will be making this for my friends when they come this Easter – thank you – never thought of adding walnuts. In my defence until this last summer when we finally raised our own meat birds I hadn’t really cooked many roast chickens. Stuffing inside – totally – as you say the clue is certainly in the name.

    • Thanks. You are very kind to me. I am so jealous of you raising your own birds. The flavours must be really outstanding. Glad you agree on the stuffing….

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