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Country-Style Roasted Chicken with California Ricotta Cheese Stuffing



– 1 4 to 4 1/2- pound chicken (see tip) – 2 tablespoons Real California unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons melted Real California unsalted butter, divided – 1 small onion, finely chopped – 1 pound zucchini, coarsely shredded – Salt – Pepper – 8 ounces Real California Ricotta cheese (about 1 cup) – 3 ounces shredded Real California Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 cup) – 3 ounces fresh coarse white bread crumbs (about 4 slices), or more as needed (see tip) – 1 large egg, lightly beaten – 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley – 1 teaspoon dried thyme mixed with 3 tablespoons olive oil
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Note: The stuffing mixture is layered between the loosened skin and the meat, acting as a basting agent to lend maximum flavor and moisture to the cooked bird. When serving, take care to cut the roasted chicken cleanly between the joints to keep the stuffing attractively layered between the skin and the meat.

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: About 1 1/2 hours

Preheat oven to 450°

Meanwhile, prepare chicken: Use poultry shears to remove wing tips, then turn chicken breast-side down and cut along backbone. Turn breast-side up on a flat surface, open chicken like a book, and press firmly on breastbone to flatten, making more room between skin and meat for stuffing. Starting near neck, slide fingers between skin and meat, working gently toward tail to loosen skin over entire bird. Leave skin attached at drumstick tips, backbone and crest of the breast. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and zucchini, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, Monterey Jack, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, and melted butter. Add onion and zucchini mixture, mixing until smooth. (A slightly drier stuffing will stay in place better during carving—if stuffing appears too moist, add 1 or 2 tablespoons additional bread crumbs.) Gently spread mixture under chicken skin, starting with drumsticks and moving to thighs and breasts (you might not need it all). Rub stuffed chicken inside and out with the thyme and olive oil mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake chicken: Reshape chicken into a whole bird and place in a roasting pan. Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pan and roast 20 minutes. Reduce to 375°F and roast until cooked through, about 45 minutes, basting once or twice. (If chicken gets overly browned, cover loosely with aluminum foil.) Set aside to rest 15 or 20 minutes.

Carve chicken and serve.

Tips: Save time by asking your butcher to remove the wing tips and cut the chicken open along the backbone.

To make fresh bread crumbs, tear sliced bread into large pieces, then pulse in a food processor to coarse crumbs.

Per Order:

Serves 4 to 6.