I love barbecuing in the summer. Well, actually my husband does most of the grilling, but I really enjoy the results. All of that intense heat just caramelizes meat and vegetables so beautifully. I also happen to love stuffing. So in an attempt to marry grilling and stuffing, I have been on a mission to create a repertoire of stuffed recipes for the barbecue (which some of you may have guessed as it seems half my posts are about stuffed and grilled vegetables this summer). Grilled stuffed chicken is the latest, and it's one I plan on repeating often.
As much as I enjoy stuffed chicken, I had never thought of grilling it until a month or so ago when I was making my grilled stuffed artichokes. For some reason I ended up making more filling then needed, but I hated to throw away perfectly good stuffing so looked for an alternate use. Nearby on the counter sat my marinated chicken ready for the grill and the rest is history. Just as the School House Rock video tells us, without Mother Necessity, where would be be? Sure, they may have been talking about the cotton gin or light bulb, but at my house, Mother Necessity lives in the kitchen.
And now for a small tangent: I have always been a big School House Rock fan, spending endless childhood Saturday mornings singing while flopped out on the couch. Mother Necessity is a particularly good one, right up there with Verb and Conjunction Junction, so here it is for your enjoyment.
And now back to the chicken...
I had marinated a whole cut-up chicken earlier that day in olive oil and lemon juice with some herbs. As the stuffing I made for the artichokes included these same ingredients, plus some bread crumbs and a few other items, I thought it would pair well with the chicken. For obvious reasons, I just grilled the legs as they were. The thighs and breasts, however, had potential. Because they were not deboned, I opted to place the filling under the skin. I was a little worried the stuffing would fall out, but this ended up not being a problem. We then grilled the chicken as we normally would on indirect heat, starting skin side down. After cooking both sides of the chicken, we were ready to dig in.
Not only did the meat look great, it was succulent and tender. The combination of skin and stuffing had created a type of moisture barrier for the chicken, keeping the juices inside. This was especially true for the breast, which is easy to dry out on a grill. The stuffing was also the perfect texture, not crumbly at all and full of flavor.
Made with thighs or breasts, grilled stuffed chicken is a nice alternative to the standard barbecued chicken of summer. I'm sure Mother Necessity has hung a plaque on her sitting room wall to honor it.
Following are some tips for making your own grilled stuffed chicken along with recipe ideas.
Tips for Grilling Stuffed Chicken
- Use chicken thighs or breasts as these are easier to stuff.
- Marinate your chicken for 2-24 hours in the refrigerator. This will both flavor your chicken and help keep it from drying out on the grill.
- Be sure to purchase chicken thighs or breasts that are covered entirely on one side with skin.
- Carefully tuck the stuffing under the skin on each piece and then pat it down. I like the stuffing to be about 1/4-inch thick.
- Grill your chicken pieces as you normally would, although being a bit more careful when placing the chicken skin-side down so as not to spill the stuffing.
Mediterranean Stuffing: Combine zest from one lemon, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup cooked pancetta or bacon, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley, 3 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp water or white wine, and salt and pepper to taste.
Moroccan Stuffing: Combine zest from one lemon, 1 cup cooked couscous, 1 minced garlic, 2 Tbsp chopped parsley, 2 Tbsp chopped mint, 2 Tbsp chopped apricots or dates, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 3 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp water or chicken broth, and salt and pepper to taste.
Asian Stuffing: 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp minced ginger, 1 tsp minced spring onions, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp water, and salt and pepper to taste.