My girlfriends and I have started a ritual of semi-weekly get-togethers over beer, wine and a home-cooked meal. On the menu last week was a Crawfish and Jambalaya Stuffed Chicken a friend picked up at an interstate gas station on the way back from San Antonio. Normally the suggestion of filling station fare would be less than enticing, but we weren't talking about any old convenience store. This bird was from Buc-ee's.
Yes, Buc-ee's, a magical roadside oasis based around founder Beaver Aplin's idea that if you build clean bathrooms, people will come. And spend a lot of money on everything else you put in the store.
The selection at Buc-ee's runs the gambit from kitschy Texas novelty items (like an entire section devoted to Redneck anti-theft signage--"You steal, I shoot"), T-shirts, bumper stickers, and hats all bearing the likeness of their beaver mascot, to high-end snack food, freshly roasted nuts, and (apparently) whole, frozen deboned chickens stuffed with a variety of fillings. And the stuff isn't cheap. Much of the brand-name candy and snack food is repackaged with the Buc-ee's label and sold in larger quantities at a higher price. The aforementioned chickens go for around $15. But the mass of humanity found swarming around any of the 25 Texas locations doesn't seem to care much, another testimonial to the value of a tidy restroom when you're on the road.
This would all be a moot point if the chicken weren't delicious and easy to prepare, but after thawing and baking for an hour and a half (stopping every 30 minutes to reposition and baste it with butter) the bird was a gorgeous golden brown; the meat moist and flavorful. Served atop a bed of lightly sauteed Brussels sprouts, pancetta, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and shallots, the stuffed chicken was as pretty a plate as any you'd expect to see at a fancy, upscale restaurant. Knowing it came from Buc-ee's made it twice as fun.