Dr. Brandon Horvath

University of Tennessee


  • 1 whole chicken, deboned
  • Favorite seasoning rub (I use a customized version of the Meat Church rubs)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Butcher’s twine
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (pick your heat)
  • 4 large handfuls of spinach
  • 3/4 cup low moisture mozzarella cheese


  • Debone whole chicken using Jacque Pepin’s technique
  • Pour 1/2 olive oil over skin side of chicken and sprinkle seasoning rub onto skin.
  • Pour remaining olive oil over meat and sprinkle with seasoning rub.
  • Place chicken in refrigerator while you prepare stuffing.
  • Brown Italian sausage over medium heat until it’s nearly cooked through.
  • On top of the simmering sausage, place 4 to 5 large handfuls of fresh spinach and stir, allowing them to wilt and soak up rendered pork fat from the sausage.
  • Remove chicken from refrigerator, and with the legs away from you, open chicken up so meat is exposed and facing up.
  • Spoon completed stuffing onto the chicken, taking care to drain using a slotted spoon or similar.
  • Spread stuffing out over chicken, pushing some into the cavity of the legs, and leaving about a 1-inch border free of stuffing around the outside of the chicken.
  • Carefully fold chicken over so as to roll stuffing inside, and push together so it resembles a normal whole bone-in chicken. Carefully roll over, so open seam is now on the bottom. Reach hands under and make sure seam has remained closed.
  • Using butcher’s twine, tie a slip knot onto one of the ankle joints at the bottom of the leg. Pull out a length of twine, and make series of underhand loops, sliding each under the chicken and pulling tight, but leaving some room for chicken to expand. After 4 to 5 loops, run twine down the centerline of the chicken underneath, drawing it tight and tying it to the remainder of the twine on the ankle joint. Trim ends.
  • Place chicken in a smoker/pellet grill on high smoke (225) for 30 to 45 minutes, then turn heat up to 400 until center reads 165 using a meat thermometer.
  • Remove chicken and rest for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Remove twine, cut chicken into ¾- to 1-inch slices and serve.