I’ll open with a kitchen confession: I consistently fail at cooking whole chickens. Cakes from scratch? Check. Homemade doughnuts? Been there, done that. But roast chicken is my kryptonite. Never golden brown no matter how forcefully I pat it dry, always over- or under-cooked…it gets me every time. But now…I have the upper hand. I still need to master roast chicken eventually, but for the foreseeable future, every whole chicken that comes into my kitchen is meeting the same fate.
I came across this CI recipe a while ago, and it caught my attention. It proposed trading golden brown skin (the hallmark of dry roasting) for moist, juicy meat (the hallmark of a good braise). I generally remove the skin anyway–I’d rather save my empty calories for brownies–so this seemed like a good deal to me. The general idea is as simple as can be. You brown the bird on both sides in a Dutch oven, just enough to generate a little fond for the jus. Then you toss in some aromatics, cover with aluminum foil and a sturdy lid, and pop the whole thing in a low oven for about an hour. The juices that render out become the braising fluid.
I followed the instructions, and the result was, quite possibly, the best chicken I’ve ever put in my mouth. I barely had to carve, the legs popped off when I touched them. (And that’s good because I’m about as bad at carving as I am at roasting.) And the jus–criminy, the jus! Nothing fancy, no shallots, no stock, just the braising liquid, de-greased and reduced a little; and easily the tastiest jus I’ve ever produced.
(It is a fair bit of grease that comes out: I photographed for your edification.)