September is a transition season when it comes to cooking — I crave hearty cold-weather dishes but still have access to an abundance of late summer ingredients. This savory roast chicken, stuffed with an addictive zucchini, sourdough, and ricotta filling, is definitely the best of both worlds.
I was planning an impromptu dinner party this weekend and trying to come up with a savory fall dish that still celebrated the best of our Southern Indian summer. I remembered an incredible roast chicken dish that I made in culinary school but hadn't made in many, many years. I dusted off my old textbook and drafted my ideal late September menu.
Moist, bone-in roast chicken breasts were the perfect vehicle for the positively mouthwatering filling. Zucchini, bread crumbs, ricotta, butter, and Parmesan create a juicy layer that makes you wish chicken always tasted this good. I nestled red potatoes under the chicken so they cooked in all of the delicious drippings. Decadent, perhaps. Devoured? Absolutely.
The chicken was sandwiched between a few Kitchn favorites: baked ricotta and my new "easy entertaining" go-to, creamy candy bar sauce. All in all I'd say the whole menu was a dinner party success. While fancy enough to serve friends, it's definitely worthy of my weekly rotation any time of year. I definitely won't wait so long to make this roast chicken again!
Baked Chicken with Zucchini and Ricotta Stuffing
Serves 4 to 6
1 pound (about 2 to 3 medium) zucchini, grated
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large egg
1 cup sourdough bread crumbs (or panko)
1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 to 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, legs, or mix of both
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Toss the grated zucchini with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and set in a strainer to drain for 15 to 30 minutes. Squeeze out any remaining water with a dish cloth or paper towels.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the drained zucchini and sauté until tender, another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Add the egg, bread crumbs, ricotta, Parmesan, and remaining 3 tablespoons butter to the skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix until completely combined.
Gently loosen the skin from the chicken breasts, being careful not to tear. Stuff a few heaping tablespoons of the zucchini mixture (the more the better) under the skin of each breast.
Place the stuffed chicken in a large roasting pan and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160°F in the thickest part of the meat, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes (chicken will continue cooking with residual heat).
(Images: Nealey Dozier)