Roast Chicken Stuffed with Crepes and Caramelized Onion

From ‘Savage Feast’ by Boris Fishman

My Aunt Lyuba is one of those fabled ex-Soviet women who can “cover” a multicourse table for a dozen guests in an hour without advance warning. This dish takes a little longer but is worth the trouble for an unusual, homey take on a roast chicken.

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus additional for the pan
1 1/2 onions, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup water
4 large eggs
2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 whole chicken, 5-6 pounds (a larger chicken means a larger cavity for stuffing)

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring once in a while, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.

2. While the onions are cooking, make the batter by mixing the milk, water, and 2 of the eggs. Then whisk the flour in, little by little. Then add the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. And finally, add the 2 remaining tablespoons of vegetable oil, whisking well. Your batter should be pretty liquid.

3. Warm up a small (8- to 9-inch) crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add a tiny amount of oil (or cooking spray), give it a little time to warm up, and roll it around so it covers the whole pan. Raise the heat to medium.

4. Lift the pan off direct heat—otherwise the batter sticks too quickly—and add enough batter that it expands to the edges of the pan (around 2 tablespoons), swirling the batter until it forms as perfect a circle as possible. You want a thin crepe, so try to add as little batter as necessary to reach the edges of the pan after swirling. Return to direct heat.

5. After 2 minutes or so at medium heat, the crepe should be sufficiently browned underneath and crisp around the edges for you to be able to use a spatula or a fine-tipped wooden skewer to lift it. Now you have to flip it to the other side. The difficult truth is that there’s no better instrument than your fingers, if they can withstand the heat.

6. If the crepe tears, don’t worry: The first crepe always comes out sideways, as we say. You can “darn” the hole by pouring in a little new batter to fill it. Either way, this is a forgiving dish for ugly practice crepes—they will end up out of view. After 2 minutes on the other side, the crepe should be ready; set aside and repeat with the remaining batter.

7. Stack the crepes on top of each other and cut into quarter-inch-wide vertical strips, and then cut those strips into thirds horizontally. Mix in a large bowl with the cooked onion, and then add the 2 remaining eggs. Mix thoroughly.

8. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. (The high heat will give the skin a nice crispness.) Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season generously, inside and out, with salt and pepper. Then fill the cavity with the crepe-and-onion mixture, closing the skin flaps around it as much as possible. Lay the chicken down gently in an oven-worthy pan, breasts down so they absorb the dripping juice and the fat of the thighs. Cook for 10-12 minutes per pound, until the juices from a thigh run clear when pricked with a fork.

Time: 2 hours
Serves: 6

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