French Chicken in a Pot

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.)



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