Winter has arrived in all it’s beauty dumping buckets of snow over our area and keeping us huddled inside.  Work and school has come to a halt and everyone is hunkered down for the duration.  These are the times I feel most at home in my kitchen.  A warm oven and the aroma of good food brings comfort and tranquility.  I knew everyone would be housebound for a couple days so I made a roasted chicken that we could stretch into several meals.  Paul Prudhomme’s Atchafalaya Chicken is the most flavorful and all around delicious chicken I’ve ever made.  The spices alone make this bird tasty but add some butter and onions to make a paste that lines the inside cavity and underneath the skin to make the most juicy and tender chicken.  And if that’s not enough, reserve some of the pan drippings along with a little of the stuffing to make the most delicious pan gravy.


Start with a whole onion, unsalted butter, salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil, dry mustard, ground cumin, black pepper, white pepper, thyme and savory.


Mix the dry spices together.


In a saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.


When the butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add the chopped onion.


Stir in 3 tablespoons of the spice blend.


Continue stirring the onions for 4 – 5 minutes until the onions become translucent and start sticking to the bottom of the pan.   Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.


Make your stuffing from scratch or a box of Stove Top works just fine too.


Wash and dry the chicken and place on a roasting pan.  I have a small rack that I place in a baking pan to prop the chicken up slightly.  Remove the giblets from the cavity and loosen the skin from the meat.  I use my hands and kitchen shears to loosen the skin around the legs, thighs and breasts.  Take about half of the cooked onion mix which is now paste like and begin rubbing it along the inside of the cavity and underneath the skin.  Make sure to get as much paste underneath the skin around the thighs, legs and breast which will make the bird so juicy and flavorful.  Mix the remaining onion paste in with the prepared stuffing.


I like to stuff the bird, but you can also cook the stuffing separate in a baking dish.  This bird needs a little string to hold it all together.  Sprinkle some of the remaining seasoning blend over the outside of the bird.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.


Melt a couple tablespoons of butter and brush over the chicken.  I like to brush a little butter over the bird every hour or so while it’s roasting.   Place in the oven and cook approximately 3 hours for a 3 1/2 – 4 pound bird.  This chicken is 5 1/2 pounds and needed about 4 hours.  I’ve had some problems in the past with those pop up thermometers that come in the bird so I placed a second meat thermometer in the meaty part of the thigh.  The safe poultry temperature is 165 degrees.  If the top skin becomes too brown while cooking, lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top to protect it from further browning.


The chicken needs to reach at least 165 internal degrees before removing from the oven.  Let the chicken rest for 10 – 15 minutes.  Reserve the pan juices to make gravy.


Heat 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the pan juices and a couple tablespoons of the stuffing into a skillet or saucepan.


Add an equal amount of flour to the pan.  Stir in the flour to make a roux.


Begin adding chicken stock to the roux .  The gravy will start to thicken.  If too thick, add some more stock.


Let the gravy cook a couple minutes until it thickens and begins to bubble.


Time to set the table!


Atchafalaya Chicken (adapted from Paul Prudhomme’s Seasoned America)

1 tablespoon Salt
2 teaspoons Paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Sweet Basil
1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
3/4 teaspoon White Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Ground Savory
1 roasting Chicken
4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, divided
1 large Onion, chopped
1/4 – 1/3 cup Flour
2 cups Chicken Stock
4- 6 cups Stuffing

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the seasoning blend ingredients together in a small bowl.  Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a skillet over medium high heat.  When the butter begins to sizzle, add the chopped onions and 3 tablespoons of the seasoning blend.  Cook onions for 4 -5 minutes stirring until the onions become translucent and golden in color.  Transfer to a bowl, scraping all the seasonings from the skillet into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Wash and dry the chicken.  Remove the giblets and clean the cavity.  Loosen the skin from the breast, leg and thigh areas.  Line the cavity with a layer of the cooled onions.  Using your hands, rub some of the onion paste underneath the skin.  Mix the remaining onions into the stuffing.  Spoon prepared stuffing into the cavity and tie the chicken with poultry twine.  Sprinkle remaining seasoning blend over the outside of the chicken and brush with melted butter.  (You may brush additional butter over bird every hour or so if desired).

Insert a meat thermometer in the breast area or in the meaty part of the thigh, making sure not to touch the bone.  Place the chicken in a large baking pan and bake 3 – 5 hours depending on size of chicken.  (approx 3 hours for 3 1/2 – 4 pounds, 4 hours for 5 1/2 pounds).  If outer skin becomes to browned, place an aluminum tent over top to prevent further browning.

Let chicken rest for 10 – 15 minutes.  Reserve 1/4 – 1/3 cup pan juices to make gravy.

To make gravy, save 1/4 – 1/3 cup of pan juices which contain oil and pour into a skillet.  If some of the stuffing has dripped down into the pan juices, add them as well.  Add same amount of flour as pan drippings and stir over medium high heat.  Begin adding chicken stock to the pan, stirring as you pour.  Gravy will begin to thicken, add more stock if too thick.  Cook for approximately 2 minutes or until gravy begins to bubble.