Yes, Hawkins and I both have an addiction to stuffing. I think a lot of people are in the same boat. Thanksgiving only comes once a year, as does Christmas. Short of the extensive preparation of a holiday feast, or a frozen dinner, I never really found a way to feed this overwhelming need for poultry and stuffing. Then I discovered the quick and easy stuffing bake, to have holiday food on any given weeknight. It takes maybe 10-15 minutes to prepare, 45 to cook, and as long as you would like to eat and enjoy.
I took about a pound-and-a-half of boneless chicken and marinated it in enough Marsala wine and about a teaspoon’s full of rosemary. I strongly suggest marinating the chicken, as it adds a lot of flavor and some moisture to the meat. Chicken can be a little bland if not well spiced. Marinate it in the refrigerator overnight.
The stuffing begins with a can of chicken broth and four tablespoons of butter. I prefer real butter to margarine, because it is more natural. Add a rib of celery, an equal amount of carrots, and about a half of a Spanish onion. Cut the vegetables into small, thin slices. Add another teaspoon of rosemary and a few shakes of black pepper. Boil about 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
To make a sauce for the dish, take a can of cream of chicken soup and mix with 1/3 of a cup of milk, a small can of mushrooms and a half-teaspoon of rosemary. Rosemary is the perfect spice for poultry and stuffing.
I use about 5 cups of stuffing mix and place it into a casserole pan. Pour the broth and vegetables into the pan and mix well. Place the chicken on top of the bed of stuffing and the sauce on top. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes. It leaves the chicken tender after being steamed within the pan.
As a side dish, I made green beans almandine. The trick with side dishes is to try to harmonize the flavors with the main course. You know you are eating something different, but have similar flavors. To accomplish this, I used two cups of frozen green beans, a tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of our old friend rosemary. A half onion adds a little flavor as well. I add just enough liquid to steam in a saucepan with the lid on. A tablespoon or two of almonds adds a crunchy texture and evokes a nutty flavor that goes well with chicken and stuffing. Save the green beans for the final 15 minutes that the chicken is in the oven. They will be ready at the same time. Green bean casserole also fits in well with a stuffing bake.
I also serve cranberries with the bake, once everything is finished. Cranberries are a lot of fun and compliment poultry perfectly. Use your favorite recipe for a relish, traditional sauce or keep it quick and easy with a can. A dollop of red cranberry sauce on the plate makes it seem like Thanksgiving any night of the week. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes or any other Turkey Day family favorites are at home with the stuffing bake as well. For dessert, try pumpkin or pecan pie.
For an hour’s worth of work, a good meal worthy of the holiday season can be enjoyed any night of the year. Don’t deny the need for stuffing. Give into it and enjoy the easy chicken stuffing bake whenever the family asks, “Why does Thanksgiving only happen once a year?”