Rellenong manok (stuffed deboned whole chicken)

If you want a delicious and great-looking main dish for noche buena, chicken relleno is a fantastic choice. Tasty, impressive and inexpensive. Yes, inexpensive — if you cook it at home. Just see the ingredients and you’ll understand what I mean. I didn’t think I could pull this off but deboning a whole chicken was surprisingly easier than I thought. I did it in 15 minutes flat and I didn’t nick my hands and fingers with the knife that I used. :razz: I wasn’t about to let the 2-kg chicken go to waste. It took forever to find a bird that big (most weigh just a little over a kilo) so when I chanced upon 2-kg free range chickens at Unimart in Greenhills two days ago, I decided there and then that I would make chicken relleno. Last night, I did.

The more traditional way of cooking stuffed deboned whole chicken is to leave only the bones in the wings. The thighs and drumsticks are deboned and stuffed as well. But that’s too much for me. I deboned the carcass, and as far as the thigh, but stopped there. BUT unlike most cooks who cut through the chicken breast to make deboning easier (they sew up the chicken during the stuffing part), I did no such thing.

I deboned the chicken the same way I saw Geny Sison do it on TV months and months ago — by using a small knife and cutting between the meat and the bones little by little and using the fingers to push the meat off the bones. I was so worried that the chicken skin would tear by the time I was halfway through the deboning but all’s well that ends well. Imagine taking off a buttonless shirt by pulling it up over the shoulders and then out through the hands and head. That was how I did it. No cutting through the skin and no sewing up afterwards. Very little meat remained stuck to the bones by the time I was through but I kept the bones anyway because I can still make a pot of broth with them.

I wish I could present you with a video of the deboning process but no one was free to shoot. I couldn’t mount the video cam on the tripod and leave it there the whole time because we have cats who just love to play tag between the feet of the tripod. So, there.

The stuffing is a variation of the chicken embutido.

Ingredients :

a large whole chicken, at least 2 kg. in weight, deboned
1/2 kilo of ground chicken meat (you can substitute pork)
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. of finely sliced onion leaves
1 chorizo de bilbao, finely chopped
2-3 tbsps. of sweet pickle relish
3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
1 egg, beaten
3 slices of day-old bread, cut into small pieces and soaked in 2 tbsps. of milk

Cooking procedure :

Season the deboned chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours.

To make the stuffing, just mix together the onion, onion leaves, sweet pickle relish, ground chicken or pork, chopped chorizo de bilbao, beaten egg and bread. Season with about a teaspoonful of salt and half a teaspoonful of ground pepper.

Take the chicken from the fridge. Lay it flat on a large plate, breast side up. Fold the neck skin and tuck it underneath. Spoon the stuffing into the cavity. When half the stuffing is in, take the hard-boiled eggs and arrange them in a row along the middle of the cavity. Spoon the remaining stuffing in. Pull the skin on the tail end so that very little of the stuffing is exposed.

Carefully slide the stuffed chicken onto the roasting rack. Roast in a preheated 170oC oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.