Chefs' Recipes

Nonna's rice-stuffed chicken by Matteo Tine

The Bar Carolina chef shares a family recipe that's close to his heart.

By Matteo Tine
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 45 mins cooking (plus cooling, resting)
  • Serves 4 - 6
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I hold this dish very close to my heart. It has a certain nostalgia about it that doesn't just remind me of family, but transports me to moments that have helped shape my career and my love affair with everything that is food, especially the rustic rawness of Sicilian cuisine. It would be a very special occasion where this roasted bird would hit a family gathering, perhaps Christmas, a christening or even just a wog barbecue where my nonna wanted to treat the family with something other than her famous impanata Siciliana, or crisp yet soft Sicilian doughnuts known as Sfinci di San Giuseppe.
Me being the "golden child" – the first male grandson and with the biggest appetite – I would always get first go at the bird and Nonna would always be eagerly awaiting my response as I devoured the crunchy rice bits that stuck to the side of the baking tray. Most times, only one bird would be cooked and there would be pushing and shoving to get a piece of chook (or sometimes turkey). I always thought it was my nonna's way of making us bond as we discussed the oily goodness. Now this dish is a special treat that I make for a family meal for staff at the restaurant, especially after we have a big, eventful week.

Ingredients

  • 1.8 kg chicken
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 1 cup each coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, rosemary and sage
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 5 roasting potatoes (such as sebago or King Edward), quartered
Rice stuffing
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300 gm (1½ cups) vialone nano rice or good-quality short-grain risotto rice
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • 80 gm (1 cup) Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, finely grated
  • 50 gm (½ cup) fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp each finely chopped oregano and flat-leaf parsley

Method

  • 1
    For rice stuffing, heat oil in a casserole over low-medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir until translucent and aromatic (4-6 minutes). Add rice and stir (1 minute), then add chicken stock and cook, stirring continuously, until rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente (6-8 minutes; you want the rice to be undercooked). Spread rice over a tray to cool (15 minutes). Add remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 200°C. Stuff rice stuffing into chicken cavity to fill completely, then roll remaining stuffing into walnut-sized balls.
  • 3
    Combine oil, herbs and lemon juice in a bowl. Season to taste. Place potatoes in a roasting pan, top with chicken and brush chicken with herb dressing, making sure to coat all of the chicken. Add rice stuffing balls to pan around chicken. Pour 5mm water into pan and roast until chicken is cooked through (1½ hours). Set aside to rest (30 minutes), then carve and serve.