I made this last month to bring to a Chanakah dinner and I have been craving it ever since. Every year I am invited to my sister-in-law's family Chanakah dinner. We gentiles come bearing gifts but leave the traditional cooking to those who know it best. However this year, I couldn't help feeling that the burden of cooking was unbalanced and that a little help was in order. I could have reached for what I know of traditional Chanakah dishes but I couldn't possible make something so traditional as latkes or chotlin without trumping my host. So I searched the New York Times Archives for less well known but appropriate dishes for this holiday. This dish was posted in 2006 as Hungarian Stuffed-Under-the-Skin Chicken (click here to get the recipe and believe me you should) and was adapted from Mindel Appel. Mrs. Appel is the Hungarian Jew who founded this dish and you should read about her in this beautiful article. This article well describes the spirit of generosity that often comes with family cooking. Or cooking for anyone for that matter. It describes a long tradition of cooking as a way of giving and spending time with those you love. There are some other great recipes there to boot.
Here's the thing about this dish. There's no complexity in its flavors. There is no zing of acidity, no kick of something spicy, no rounding of sweetness to contrast or balance another flavor. It is savory, chickeny goodness with real and simple vegetables cooking in those juices. The stuffing is made with onion, egg, parsley, mushrooms and good challah bread. Simple and delicious but I mean, really delicious. Not the kind of fancy night out good, but the kind of good that makes you glad that you are home. I swear that if love were scent it would be that of this dish while it is roasting in the oven.