After wrestling and barely winning the fight with a roughly 5-pound bird the whole day, I now understand why something as simple as chicken can be the highlight of something as special as Noche Buena.
With the deboning, the stuffing, the sewing, and the roasting involved, rellenong manok is definitely not one I’ll willingly tackle for my family’s everyday dinner. I love them, they are precious to me, but no thank you. It’s the line my affection stops.
chciken, ground pork, shredded cheese, panko bread crumbs, carrots, onions, soy sauce, crushed pineapples, beaten eggs, mayonniase
Of course, I exaggerate. Making this Filipino-style stuffed chicken is labor-intensive but not as complicated as it appears. Really, the hardest part is the deboning and once you have that down to pat, everything else is a walk in the park.
deboning chicken with a knife
How to debone a whole chicken
There are two ways of deboning poultry. Choose which method works best for you!
One way is cutting across the rib cage to get to the bones and then sewing back the gap after stuffing. I am not really a fan of this method as I find it messier and my relleno always end up scarier than the monster of Frankenstein.
The method I prefer requires a bit more knife skills but the end product comes out prettier and less stitched up. Through the bottom opening of the chicken, use a small sharp knife to gently nudge the meat from the bones and then pull the bones out in more or less one piece. Make sure to watch our video below to visually guide you through the process.
making stuffed whole chicken
After deboning, the chicken gets marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and calamansi juice to infuse flavor. Time to work on the stuffing!
I use my favorite pork embutido mix and added shredded cheese cheddar for extra flavor and bread crumbs to help the stuffing hold shape. Feel free to use your favorite ground meat filling or use this recipe as a base for other mix-ins such as chorizo, Chinese sausage, ham, pine nuts, olives, sweet pickle relish, and bell peppers.
whole Filipino-stuffed chicken on a cutting board
Finely grate the onions (I used a fine grater) instead of chopping to keep the meat stuffing more moist and juicy.
Do not overstuff the chicken. The stuffing will expand during cooking as it will absorb the juices.
Roast the chicken in a roasting rack to ensure heat circulation around the meat.
For food safety, make sure the filling reaches 165 F. If the skin is browning too quickly before the stuffing is fully cooked, loosely tent with foil.
Let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing to redistribute the juices.
sliced Rellenong Manok on a cutting board
How to prep ahead
As this is tedious and time-consuming dish, you might want to prep ahead of the event.
You can debone the chicken and make the filling a day in advance, but for food safety, stuff the chicken just before cooking to decrease the risk of bacteria growth. Do not marinate the chicken in the calamansi-soy sauce mixture for too long as the acids might denature the meat and result in a mushy texture.
Rellenong manok takes a bit of work, but so worth the effort! It makes a festive and tasty addition to any special occasion or holiday celebration menu.
Serve it with banana ketchup or gravy along with sides like steamed rice or mashed potatoes and vegetables such as buttered peas and carrots.