Back in the day when the Food Network seemed to care more about food than personalities and featured cooks who could teach rather than stars who entertain, Sara Moulton was one of my favorites. Her style was similar to Julia Child’s: instructive and encouraging.

This past weekend, I was happy to discover that she has a new show on PBS, Sara’s Weeknight Meals. I watched her prepare a roast chicken stuffed under the skin with zucchini and cheese with such nonchalance that I had to make it myself. I thought it would be perfect for supper on Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year.

Roast Chicken Stuffed with Zucchini and Cheese Adapted from Sara’s Weeknight Meals

1 medium zucchini (about 1/2 pound), grated coarsely, about 2 cups
Kosher salt
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped fine (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped fine
1 1/2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
2 slices firm white bread, pulsed in food processor or blender to make 1 cup of fine crumbs
1/4 cup whole milk ricotta
Freshly ground black pepper
One 3 1/2 pound chicken

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Toss the zucchini with ¼ teaspoon salt and set it aside in a strainer to drain for 15 minutes.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it is golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

The zucchini with the onions

4. Squeeze the zucchini by small handfuls to remove excess liquid. Discard the liquid and set the zucchini aside.
5. Stir the thyme and well-drained zucchini into the skillet and sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat; transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and set aside.
6. Add the bread crumbs, the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the ricotta, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the zucchini mixture. Add salt to taste.

The finished stuffing
The finished stuffing

7. Place the chicken, breast-side up in a shallow roasting pan or skillet. Gently slide your fingers under the breast skin and loosen the skin on the breasts and thighs. Do this slowly to avoid tearing it. Rub the skin with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
8. Using your fingers, stuff and spread the zucchini mixture evenly under the loosened skin of the chicken.
9. Truss the legs of the chicken loosely with kitchen string.

Trussed and stuffed
Trussed and stuffed

10. Roast the chicken for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Cover the chicken loosely with foil and roast for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until a meat thermometer inserted into an inner thigh registers 165°F.
11. Remove the chicken from the oven and set it aside for 10 minutes before carving.

Here’s a link to the original recipe: Roast Chicken Stuffed with Zucchini and Cheese. It has a recipe for an optional sauce and suggests accompaniments.

Wine Pairing: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir

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