Campfire Chicken And Dressing picture

Campfire Chicken And Dressing


Along with Autumn, and all through the holiday season, come many time-honored and cherished traditions. From brilliant still-life decorations on tables, manger scenes, and presents opened by candlelight and under lighted trees, to kisses 'neath Mistletoe. And of course, our favorite meals of the year, as much because of with whom they are shared as what they are. Southern style chicken and dressing was my absolute favorite dish of the holiday season as a kid. In my childhood it was a baked dish, at home, that my father made three or four times a month during the autumn and winter seasons, And at least once every other month the rest of the year. When we were camping we wouldn't always have access to an oven, sometimes there were just pots and pans and a fire, so we had to make field expedient adaptations of our favorite dishes. This one is camp fire chicken and dressing.

The Ingredients

1 small hen
3 cups cornbread crumbs
1/3 cup diced celery 
1/3 cup diced onions
2 Table spoons Sage
1 Teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups chicken broth

The kind of cornbread we made when we were camping were small cornbread cakes. We fried them in a cast iron skillet over an open fire. So we already had a system for making the hardest o the ingredients to make, over an open fire, the bread crumbs. The rest was just a matter of adding the other ingredients and then cooking that over the fire as well. So it was best to go ahead and put a hen on to boil in a pot of water while frying up the corn bread. This has the bread crumbs, chicken, and broth under way in the first steps.

The next steps would be to prep the onions and celery. Both of these are diced into roughly 1/4-inch cubes, so the same size bits but by using two different cutting techniques. With the onion just make a grid of 1/4-inch squares,  then slice them off in 1/4-inch thick slices.

With the celery, it's a bit different technique. First slice it into 1/4-inch thick strips, then bunch-cut those into 1/4-inch lengths. 

So now we have the bread crumbs in a bowl, the celery and onions ready to go, the broth is made, and the spices are on hand. The chicken is cooled and it's ready to mince. Being boiled and well done, the meat will practically fall off the bone at this point, but I prefer it cut into bite-sized lengths once pulled rather than left in long strands, so it is easier to stir into the mix.

With everything prepped and ready to go, first add the sage and salt to the bread crumbs and stir it in. Then add the celery, onions, and chicken and stir that into the dry mix. Then pour in the broth and stir everything in really well to make up a wet mix. 

At this stage it could be baked in an oven, or it could be used as a stuffing. It could be used to stuff fowl of any size large or small (two Cornish hens are featured in the photo), or to stuff rabbits. It could be used to stuff butterflied thick-sliced pork chops or a favorite seafood, whichever you may prefer.

It can also be scramble fried in a skillet, stirred fairly often to avoid sticking and burning. Then it can be served as a main entree with a bit of gravy poured over. Or it can be served as a savory side dish with a cranberry relish accent. No matter which way you go with it, it is a comfort food that fills the tummy and warms the spirit all at the same time.

It should be noted here that this is a simplified recipe which can be expanded upon for a more complex dish. One can easily add chopped nuts, dried fruit, boiled eggs, and / or mushrooms to the mix for more flavor or to make it more of an entree. It's not really what I would consider a sensitive sort of recipe, it's pretty easy to customize it and make it your own, so have fun with it and enjoy it. 

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