Grilled Chicken with Corn Stuffing

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Courtesy of Chef Craig Plainfield
Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 large (about 5 pounds/2.2 kg) frying chicken
  • ½ cup (120 g) kosher salt
  • ½ cup (100 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Applewood liquid smoke
  • 1 gallon (3.8 liters) water

For the Corn Stuffing

  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and julienned (save the skins for the stock)
  • ½ cup (85 g) peppers, roasted chili or sweet bell peppers, seeded, deveined, and peeled (sliced julienne)
  • 3 tablespoons (43 g) butter
  • 2 teaspoons (6 g) minced garlic
  • 2 cups (250 g) fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) freshly ground pepper
  • ¾ cup (97 g) grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese
  • ½ cup (85 g) masa harina
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 2 tablespoons (28 g) butter

For the spice mix

  • 4 tablespoons (29 g) smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons (11 g) garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 3 tablespoons (22.5 g) ground celery seed (or Beau Monde Seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon (7 g) freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (50 g) brown sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) chicken stock (homemade below or purchased)

For the Tomato Cilantro Salsa

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • ½ cup (20 g) chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup (12.5 g) finely diced green onions
  • ¼ cup (42 g) finely diced chilies (optional)
  • ¼ cup (42 g) diced nopales (canned prickly pear cactus leaves)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) lime zest
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 ml) lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt

For garnish

  • Cilantro leaves
  • Lime slices
  • Sour cream

craig plainfield chicken grilled and sous vide


  1. Put a large (gallon/3.8 liter) stockpot of water onto the stovetop over medium high heat to make the chicken stock. (You can skip making stock and use commercially prepared stock, if you like, but why waste the bones?)
  2. Bone and prep the chicken. (You can also skip the whole boning operation, but the final dish will not be as easy to stuff or serve nor as attractive. You can also ask your butcher to split and bone for you and give you the bones for stock.)
    1. Rinse the chicken thoroughly under cold running water.
    2. Remove the neck, gizzard, and heart from the cavity and put them into the stockpot. Save the liver for another use if desired or throw it in, too.
    3. If boning, put the chicken on a cutting board and remove the wing tips and tail. Put these into the stockpot.
    4. With the chicken, breast side down, use a sharp heavy knife or poultry shears to cut along one side of the backbone from tail to neck. Then cut along the other side of the backbone the same way and remove the backbone; put the backbone into the stockpot.
    5. Flatten the chicken and then split it neck to tail into two halves.
    6. Turn the halves breast side up and slide the tip of your knife into the top of the breast just next to the white keel bone; glide your knife down it to loosen the meat from the keel bone.
    7. Use your knife to release the wing and thigh meat from the bones. Just cut them free where they meet the carcass. There will probably be some of the backbone still connected to the thigh. Just cut it away. Put all removed bones into the stockpot. Repeat with the other half chicken.
  3. Add water to cover the bones in the stockpot, if needed, and bring it to a gentle simmer on the stove. Simmer the stock for 3 hours or longer. Strain the stock into a storage container and reserve 1 cup then save the rest for another dish. Waste not, want not
  4. Meanwhile, make the brine; put the salt, brown sugar, liquid smoke and water into a large container and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the two chicken halves and put the container into the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. (If you don’t have enough time even one hour in the brine is better than none.)
  5. Make the stuffing:
    1. Put a large sauté pan on medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted add the onions and cook them gently for 2 minutes.
    2. Add the chilies and garlic and continue to cook for another minute.
    3. Remove the onion mixture to a large bowl and add the corn, salt, pepper, and cheese and mix well. Set aside.
    4. Put the reserved cup of stock into a saucepan and add the masa, chili powder, salt, and butter.
    5. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and pulls away a bit from the sides of the pan.
    6. Add just enough of the cooked masa to the corn mixture to bind it together into a stiff mixture. You probably won’t need all of the masa.
    7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the chicken has been brined.
  6. Combine all the Spice Mix ingredients in a small bowl and sift, to mix thoroughly. The mixture can be stored in a covered jar or zip bag for up to a year.
  7. Remove the chicken halves from the brine and rinse them under cold running water; pat them dry with paper towels/kitchen paper.
  8. Generously coat the chicken halves all over with the Spice Mix.
  9. Fill and preheat the SousVide Supreme water oven to 160F/70C.
  10. Stuff the chicken halves:
    1. Tear two squares of aluminum foil and have them ready.
    2. Put the chicken halves onto the work surface, skin side down.
    3. Divide the corn stuffing mixture between the halves and press it firmly into a mound, covering the full meaty side. (Not as easy to do if you chose to leave the bones, but just fill that side with corn stuffing.)
    4. Cover the stuffing with a piece of the aluminum foil and press down all around, tucking it under the chicken to secure
    5. Put each stuffed chicken half into a cooking pouch and vacuum seal.
  11. Submerge the pouches in the water oven to cook for 5 hours.
  12. Meanwhile make the salsa (best if made about an hour before use.) In a bowl, combine all the salsa ingredients together and stir to combine. Set aside.
  13. When the chicken is done, heat a well-oiled grill or grill pan to a medium temperature.
  14. Carefully remove the chicken halves from the pouch and place them, skin side down, on the grill and grill them until the skin is golden brown—a couple of minutes at most. (The amount of time this takes depends on your grill, but keep in mind the chicken is fully cooked, so you are just looking for an appealing color and crispness.)
  15. Remove the foil and invert the chicken halves onto a heated platter; serve whole or slice into portions.
  16. Garnish the platter with cilantro, the salsa, lime slices, and sour cream and Craig’s Potato Salad or your favorite sides.
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