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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher.

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This makes a wonderful, filling meal-in -a-dish. I really suggest to those of you who have never made chicken stock that you follow the recipe and try it. Even though there are several very good commercial chicken stocks on the market, there's nothing like the flavor of homemade stock; not to mention the aroma that fills your house while it's cooking!

Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours    Serving Size: 8

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 rib celery, quartered
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot, peeled, halved and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced in half
  • 5 sprigs parsley
  • 10 pepper corns
  • (1) 8-ounce package Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix, dry
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • (1) 10 3/4 ounce can cream of chicken soup
  • (1) 10 3/4 ounce can cream of celery soup
  • cranberry sauce (as a side dish)
  • 2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock if using rotisserie chicken
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Note: if you really do not want to go through the trouble of making chicken stock, get a good cooked rotisserie chicken from your local market to use for the meat. Then get really good low-sodium chicken stock to use. You'll need between 2 and 3 cups.

Without peeling the onion, cut the top and root ends off, leaving about a quarter of an inch of the onion intact on each end. Wash whole chicken and place in a large stockpot with celery, onion top and root, carrot, garlic, parsley and peppercorns. Cover with water and bring just up to a boil. Lower heat and simmer gently for 30–45 minutes, until chicken is just done, skimming the top as it cooks. (This makes for clear stock.) Cool long enough to handle chicken and remove to a plate. Strain stock, discarding used vegetables. Remove chicken meat from the bones and break into bite-size pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Pour in the dry stuffing mix and stir to combine. Spread one third of the buttered stuffing mix in the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish with at least a 2-quart volume. Evenly layer half of the chicken meat over the stuffing mix. In another small bowl, combine the cream of chicken soup and 1 soup can full of the stock (10 3/4 ounces). Spread over the chicken in the casserole. Layer another third of the stuffing mix over the soup mixture and follow with the last half of the chicken meat. In the now empty small bowl, combine the cream of celery soup and another soup can full of stock (10 3/4 ounces). Spread over the chicken in the casserole dish. Top with the remaining stuffing mix. Bake at 350° for at least 45 minutes or until top is brown and casserole is bubbly. Serve with cranberry sauce to put it over the top!

The remaining chicken stock can be frozen in 8 ounce freezer-safe bowls; or, pour into ice-cube trays and freeze. This allows you to have chicken stock on-hand at any time.

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