One of the ways I demonstrate my love for Maggy and Sharon is through food. For Maggy’s last week of pregnancy and delivery I had made quarts and quarts of rich chicken broth, a freezer full of bread, big tins of Baby Biscotti, Saucer-Size Oatmeal Cookies and Blueberry-Walnut Granola, plus a double batch of spaghetti Bolognese, chicken noodle soup, and lamb stew.
Maggy gave birth to our little Dashiell at 11:27 PM on Friday, January, 16th. In less than twelve hours, Sharon was on a plane up from Atlanta to be with her sister and meet her new nephew.
What dish of mine would make Sharon smile? She loves chicken noodle soup too, but she’d get some I had already made for Maggy. And then I remembered Sharon’s 2009 post, entitled Stuffed! She confesses she doesn’t “give a rat’s rear end about turkey,” it’s the stuffing she’s can get enough of. “If it’s not made of bread cubes, dowsed in gravy, and possibly to probably containing sausage…I’m really just not that interested.”
For a long time it had been in the back of my mind to develop chicken and dressing in the style of my Shove-it-in-the-Oven recipes. If I could get it right, I knew she’d love Shove-it-in-the-Oven Chicken & Dressing. I thought it through, and here’s what I did.
I toasted a roasting pan full of good, chewy bread to crisp golden brown. I turned the bread into a bowl, and in the empty pan I roasted boneless, skinless chicken thighs, hot Italian sausage, onions, celery, and Italian herbs until the aromatics softened and the meat cooked. I added back the toasted bread, along with golden raisins, eggs, and broth, and baked it until golden brown.
It rarely happens, but I nailed that dish first round. I didn’t change a single thing. I guess that’s what happens when you cook for love.
- 10 to 12 cups ½-inch cubed bread plus 2 cups finely ground fresh breadcrumbs from a couple loaves of dense, crusty Italian or French bread
- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage (or 1 pound links, casings removed)
- 2 medium onions, cut into medium dice (about 2 cups)
- 3 medium celery stalks, cut into medium dice (about 1 cup)
- 1½ tablespoons dried Italian herbs, divided
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, minced
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
- 1 quart low-sodium canned or cartoned chicken broth
- 1½ cups golden raisins or dried cranberries
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake bread cubes in a large roasting pan until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer toasted bread to a large bowl; set aside.
- Meanwhile, mix chicken, sausage, onions, celery, 1 tablespoon of the Italian herbs, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper, and the fennel in a large bowl. Pour mixture into the now-empty roasting pan. Return to the oven and roast until meat is fully cooked and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk eggs, along with parsley, ½ teaspoon pepper, and remaining 1½ teaspoons Italian herbs, into chicken broth. Add toasted bread cubes, bread crumbs, raisins or cranberries, and broth mixture to the roasting pan. Return to oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven and serve.