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The Annotated Recipe

Stuffed Andalusian Chicken (Pollo Relleno a la Andaluza)
Serves 6 {Ahem, in our case, it seemed to serve four … insatiable Americans!}

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound 2 ounces tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped {This was the seductive element for me—chicken stuffed with apples? Yay!}
Scant 1 cup diced Serrano ham or prosciutto {This had a certain element of seduction, too.}
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups amontillado or other sherry {I couldn’t find anything but cream sherry at the Washington state liquor store … luckily I had something nicer lurking around my liquor cabinet, but still, you might want to call ahead if you’re not going to a Spanish specialist.}
1/4 cup anisette {This was the so-weird-it-must-be-good element for me …}
1 chicken, 3 1/4 pounds
1/3 cup lard or 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 large onion, cut into 2-3 pieces
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the apple and cook over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the ham, pine nuts, parsley, and cloves, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Pour in half the sherry and the anisette, stir well, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. {Or if you’re a more careful cook than me, cool entirely in the refrigerator—remember, you’re not supposed to put warm stuffing in a raw bird. Plus this recipe takes a while to make; you might not mind having this step all completed the day before.} Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stuff the chicken with the mixture, reserving any extra cooking liquid. Sew up the opening or secure with skewers. Spread the lard or brush the oil all over the bird and place it in a roasting pan. Pour the reserved apple cooking liquid around the chicken. Season with salt and put the pieces of onion on either side of the chicken. Roast, turning occasionally {That turning is the test of your trussing—I had been lazy and the wobbly legs started some ugly fissures in the skin. In general with roasting, I let the chicken brown, back down, in an ovenproof pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then, without turning, throw the whole thing into the oven to finish roasting; it gives the longer-to-cook thighs a head start over the breasts. Next time, I think I might incorporate this step into the method and not bother turning at all.} for 20 minutes, then pour the remaining sherry over the chicken. (If the tips of the legs start to brown during cooking, cover them in foil.) Return to the oven and roast, basting occasionally, for about 40 minutes more, until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Check that it is done by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with the tip of a sharp knife; if the juices run clear and the meat is no longer pink, the chicken is cooked. Carve the chicken {I let mine rest for a little while} and spoon out the stuffing onto a warm serving dish. Serve immediately with the sauce.

{The combination of sherry apples and ham plus chicken juices is just scrumptious. Thanks in part to my less-than-stellar trussing, the bird wasn’t the prettiest roast I’ve made (the apple mixture comes out sort of putty brown, too), but man was that sauce good.}

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