What Speedy wanted was a dish that goes like this: A deboned and stuffed chicken is stuffed into a deboned duck and the duck is stuffed into a deboned turkey. Even granting that I can debone a turkey and a duck, something I’ve never done before, I don’t know how we can finish all that. A turkey would be around ten kilos, and the average duck is around five kilos… add the chicken plus the stuffing that goes inside the chicken… Wow, we’ll be eating the same three-bird dish for two weeks.
So, I cooked chicken relleno instead. Last Monday. I used a 2.2-kilogram chicken, I thought we’d have leftovers galore but, as soon as Sam saw the cooked chicken relleno come out of the oven, she announced that there wouldn’t be any leftovers. She was right. But we didn’t finish the whole chicken in one sitting. More like lunch and dinner plus several slices that I packed for the girls to bring to the condo.
Now, there’s an old chicken relleno recipe in the archive that I posted in 2007. The main differences between the old chicken relleno recipe and this one are the bacon and the marinating of the deboned chicken. I used chopped chorizo de Bilbao in the 2007 recipe; I used chopped belly bacon in this one. And, instead of simply rubbing the deboned chicken with salt and pepper, I marinated it in beer, herbs, spices, and seasonings.
Using bacon made a whole lot of difference in the texture of the stuffing and the chicken meat, especially the breast meat. The fat from the bacon prevented the chicken meat from drying out. And, as the fat melted and melded with the bread crumbs, it served as a wonderful binder to make a firm but not too dense stuffing. Marinating the chicken with herbs and spices made the meat more flavorful and aromatic.
Using a small pointed and very sharp knife (I used a paring knife), cut around the tail end of the chicken to separate the meat from the bone. Use swift short strokes. Do not push the knife too far. Just small nips. As you cut with one hand, use the other the pull the meat away from the bone. When you have about three inches of the backbone exposed, set the knife aside and use your fingers to gently separate the meat from the bone. Just start pushing your fingers inside the chicken, little by little, feeling where the bone is, and then inserting your fingers between the meat and the bone.
Now, you’ll need the knife again to cut through five areas the four joints and the neck bone. The four joints are the two joints separating the thighs from the legs (drumsticks), and the two joints separating the “little drumstick” (attached to the wings) from the breast. So, just use the knife to cut through the joints. I deboned the thigh but, if you feel more comfortable, you can cut the joint that separates the thigh from the back rather than the joint that separates the thigh from the leg. That way, there’s no need to debone the thigh.