Think of the chicken and stuffing casserole that is made with pre-cooked cubed chicken, cream of soup, and a box of stove top stuffing. Don't MAKE it, just think of it. Now forget about the shortcut and spend all day making a dish that may not be quick nor easy but it is way worth it. This dish travels well and is great for holiday dinners, pot lucks, church socials, or bringing to families in need of some home cooked food. We fight over the leftovers - when there are any.
- Split cleaned chicken at the backbone and flatten. You need to press down on the breastbone, and it might even crack.
- Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
- Place on a rack in baking dish.
- Add 1 cup of water to bottom of pan.
- Roast at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until the breast meat tests done with an instant read thermometer (about 170 degrees F).
- Pull white meat from bones and set aside.
- Break apart the rest of the carcass into pieces and place in a large saucepot (this includes the dark meat pieces).
- Add water to almost cover (about eight cups) and the drippings from roasting the chicken.
- Bring to a boil. Continue to boil the chicken for at least 1 hour to make a flavourful stock.
- Strain stock, reserving liquid. You should have about six cups.
- Remove the dark meat from the bones and add it to the reserved white meat.
- Skim the fat from the reserved stock and place the fat in a small saucepan. You want about a tablespoon or two of fat.
- Heat to medium, then whisk in the flour.
- Add about 3 cups of stock to the roux in the pan, whisking constantly.
- Bring to a boil, and let bubble until thickened.
- This is your gravy. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Melt butter in a non-stick skillet. Add onion and celery and saute until onion is translucent.
- Add poultry seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
- Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Fold in the butter mixture with a rubber spatula, continuously stirring to coat the cubes as well as you can.
- Fold in about 2 cups of reserved stock until moist. Some of the cubes will have hard centers, that is okay. Let sit and check again in 10 minutes. Add more stock if there are still hard pieces.
- Arrange chicken pieces in a casserole dish.
- Pour gravy over top.
- Crumble stuffing mixture over the gravy.
- Cover tightly in foil.
- Bake at 375 degrees F until bubbly (about 30 minutes). Remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes to brown the stuffing.
- To make ahead, cover well and refridgerate up to 24 hours. Take out and let sit one hour at room temperature before baking as above.