Monday, February 16, 2009

French Chicken in a Pot with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The weather has been cold and wet and what better way to stave off dreary weather blues than a hearty chicken dinner. I saw this recipe either on Cook's Country or America's Test Kitchen (I can't remember which one) and knew immediately that The Mister would love it. A very straightforward slow cook recipe that results in a very tender and juicy chicken.

The recipe states a chicken between 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lb will take about 1 hour to cook, while a 5-6 lb will take between 1.5 to almost 2 hours. I used a 5 1/2 lb chicken, which took approximately 1.5 hours.

I'm sure chicken parts can be used instead of a whole chicken but just make sure you check on the meat temperature for doneness a littler earlier since chicken parts will cook faster than a whole chicken. The recipe also recommends not using a chicken larger than 5 lb if cooking in a 5-quart pot.

The only change I made to the recipe is adding 2 carrots and increasing the celery to 2.

1 whole roasting chicken (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), giblets removed and discarded
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used extra virgin)
1 small onion , chopped medium
2 small stalk celery , chopped medium
2 small carrots, chopped medium
6 medium garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and trimmed
1 bay leaf
1 medium sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and adjust the oven rack to the lowest position.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season the entire chicken with salt and pepper. I like to season the inside cavity, too.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven (I used a 7 1/2 quart DO) at medium heat. When the oil is just smoking, add the chicken breast-side down. You should hear a good sizzle. Add the celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary into the pot. Cook until the breast is lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes.

Flip the chicken over. I used a large, sturdy wooden spoon inserted into the cavity to flip it. Continue cooking with breast-side up until chicken and vegetables are well browned, ~6-8 minutes more. Here's what it looked like after flipping.

Remove DO from heat. Place a large sheet of foil over the pot and cover tightly with the lid. This will ensure all the steam stays within the pot. Transfer the DO to the oven and cook until the breast registers 160 degrees F in the thickest part and 175 degrees F in the thighs. See above regarding roasting time.

Take the chicken out of the DO and onto a carving board that has grooves to catch juices. Tent with foil and rest for 20 minutes. I just reused the foil from the pot. I was nicely surprised that the majority of the browning stayed on the breast (the show stated that the chicken would lose quite a bit of the browning).

Strain chicken juices from the pot through a strainer into fat separator. I pressed on the solids to extract some of the yummy liquid goodness. This should yield about 3/4 cups of juices. Discard solids. You should have about 3/4 cup juices. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan, leaving out the fat, and set over low heat.

Carve the chicken and adding any accumulated juices to saucepan. Add lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon at a time into jus to taste. I added about 1 teaspoonful. Serve chicken with jus on the side. You'll have plenty of jus leftover but don't throw it away. See note at bottom of post.

I served the chicken with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. The garlic mash potatoes are very easy to make. The following will make about 2-3 servings.

2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4-6 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled (add more or less to taste, we like a lot of garlic)
~1/3 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Place potatoes and garlic into a large pot and cover with water. I usually add enough water to come up about 1" above the potatoes. Salt the water (I add about a good tablespoon). Bring everything to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook the potatoes until a parring knife can go through the potato fairly easily with no resistance. Be careful not to overcook the potatoes.

Drain the potatoes and put back into the pot. Don't forget to put the garlic back in, too. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes and garlic together until no more lumps. Add heavy cream to mixture. Use the masher to incorporate the cream into the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

If you like your mashed potatoes creamier, you can add another 1/4 cup of heavy cream.

Side note on leftover jus: The jus contains a lot of flavor (from all those broken down connective tissues!) which can be used to flavor many things (soup stock, sauteed mushrooms or onions, etc.). It will congeal when cold, which makes defatting so much easier, and can be stored up to a week in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it, too. I used some leftover jus to heat up some leftover chicken for sandwiches the next day (post to come).

Hope everyone has a wonderful week. Now go and eat well.

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