When I see enormous roasting chickens in the meat case at the supermarket, they remind me of a Norman Rockwell illustration of three generations sitting down for dinner together, with the father carving at the head of the table.
For most families today such a meal is a rare occurrence, so it is more sensible to use a roaster to provide two meals, each distinctive in its own right. The trick is to put flavor into the bird and benefit from its generous proportion of meat to bone.
A French chicken fricassee is a classic dish with a seasoned bread stuffing, using the legs, thighs, and wings of a roaster.
The breast and back meat is reserved for the following night. Mixed with pasta, fresh vegetables, and Parmesan cheese, no one will realize that what he is actually eating in this delicious dish is leftovers - but with a more authoritative flavor. French Chicken Fricassee 1 large roasting chicken, 6 to 7 pounds Stuffing: Giblets from the chicken 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 large onion, minced 1 stalk celery, including leaves, minced 1 teaspoon rubbed sage 1/2 teaspoon salt Freshly ground pepper to taste 3 cups soft bread crumbs 1 egg, slightly beaten 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon rendered chicken fat 2 1/2 cups rich chicken stock 2 medium onions 2 medium carrots 1 bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon thyme 1/4 cup all-purpose flour Salt and pepper
Clean and wipe chicken inside and out. Prepare stuffing. Chop liver and keep separate. Chop gizzard and heart together until quite fine.
In saucepan, heat butter and oil, and saute gizzard and heart with onion and celery until soft, about 10 minutes. Add liver, sage, salt, and pepper and saute for 2 more minutes.
Toss bread crumbs with contents of saucepan and fold in egg. Season inside of chicken with salt and pepper, and stuff loosely with bread mixture. Truss chicken securely.
In a large casserole with a tight lid, melt butter and chicken fat, and brown chicken carefully on all sides for approximately 20 minutes.
Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock, onions, carrots, bay leaf, and thyme, and bring to a boil.
Cover and place casserole in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven, and bake until chicken is tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
Remove chicken to carving board and strain broth, discarding solids. Return broth to casserole. Whisk flour with a little water, stir into chicken broth, and cook gently on top of stove while carving chicken.
Discard wing tips and separate wing at joint. Remove legs and thighs, and separate. Spoon stuffing into a warm serving bowl; top with legs, thighs, and chicken wings; and keep warm in oven. Bone remaining chicken and set aside for another meal.
Spoon some of fricassee gravy over chicken and dressing, and serve rest in a bowl with white rice and a green vegetable. Serves 4. Pasta in Cream Sauce With Chicken Breast and back meat from chicken fricassee 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 4 scallions, thinly sliced, reserve green tops for garnish 1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped 1/2 teaspoon rosemary 1/2 cup chicken stock 1 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup tomato sauce, preferably homemade 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese 12 ounces thin spaghetti
Cut chicken into 1-inch strips and set aside. Heat butter and oil in skillet until butter stops foaming, add mushrooms and saute over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, or until they begin to take on color.
Add tomato and rosemary, and cook until tomato is tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and stock; simmer until stock is reduced by half. Add tomato sauce, heavy cream, and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly.
Meanwhile, bring plenty of salted water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente.
Drain and place in heated dish. Pour chicken sauce over spaghetti, and sprinkle with shredded green scallion tops and remaining cheese. Serve on warmed plates. Serves 4.