Wednesday, September 16, 2009

French chicken in a pot

Every cook out there has their go-to recipe. It's usually something relatively easy, quick and delicious. Technically my go-to is pasta b/c I'm a lazy grad student most of the time. But as far as "real food" goes, this chicken recipe is always my go-to. And guess where I got the recipe from (yes, Cooks Illustrated... again!)

Why do I make it so often? A few reasons. (1) It takes almost no prep time. (2) It has almost no "active" cooking time- the oven does all the work! (3) It's the perfect dish to cook on the weekend and have food to last the whole week. (4) It yields a ridiculously moist and delicious chicken. This is a seriously juicy bird.

The other thing I like is the flavor of the chicken. It's a very chickeny chicken. Go ahead and laugh, but you know when you make chicken and its kinda bland and flavorless? Not this stuff, it's like super concentrated chicken flavor inside the chicken.

The only downside of this recipe is the skin. If you like crispy skin on chicken this is not the recipe for you. The skin from this recipe goes straight into the trash. But I highly recommend you try the recipe at least once- it may convert you ;)

And one final note: I'd really recommend splurging a bit and getting a decent quality chicken. I made it once with a regular ole Safeway brand and I don't think it came out as well. Trader Joes has a pretty decent whole chicken for a good price (but I'm sure a Whole Foods one would rock even more...)

OK, let's get started. This is all I used (plus a small chicken). If you've got some celery throw it in there as well, it can't hurt! I always use onions and garlic, but for the other stuff (rosemary, carrots, celery) I just use what I have in the fridge.

Searing the chicken before the long trip in the oven.

Nicely browned chicken.

Getting ready for the slowwww cook

Once the chicken was done I actually ripped it all apart and put it back in the remaining juices to soak up more chickeny goodness. (Alternatively, you could make gravy out of the chicken juice.) I also saved the carrots/veggies instead of discarding them as the recipe states. They get super mushy and even a little greasy from the chicken fat, but they tasted SOOOOOOOO good.

And that's it! Super simple meal that is guaranteed to be a hit!

And finally, the recipe and notes, courtesy of Cooks Illustrated.


The cooking times in the recipe are for a 4 1/2- to 5-pound bird. A 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound chicken will take about an hour to cook, and a 5- to 6-pound bird will take close to 2 hours. We developed this recipe to work with a 5- to 8-quart Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. If using a 5-quart pot, do not cook a chicken larger than 5 pounds. Use the best chicken available, such as a Bell & Evans. If using a kosher chicken, reduce the kosher salt to 1 teaspoon (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt). If you choose not to serve the skin with the chicken, simply remove it before carving. The amount of jus will vary depending on the size of the chicken; season it with about 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice for every 1/4 cup.

1 whole roasting chicken (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under back (see note)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion , chopped medium (about 1/2 cup)
1 small stalk celery , chopped medium (about 1/4 cup)
6 medium garlic cloves , peeled and trimmed
1 bay leaf
1 medium sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon


1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add chicken breast-side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary (if using) around chicken. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, 80 to 110 minutes.

2. Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes. Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about 3/4 cup juices). Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat. Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan. Stir lemon juice into jus to taste. Serve chicken, passing jus at table.


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