Pot-Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4 to 6

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

In France, roast chicken is taken as seriously in the professional kitchen as it is in the home. Their basic approach is to select a young, free-range chicken, season it, brown it deeply in a heavy, deep casserole, then cover and roast in a medium-hot oven until it’s done. What could be easier? I’ve watched the process many times, and I’ve noticed that it is the small things that make the difference: a good fresh chicken, duck, or goose; fat or real lard for browning; good sea salt and freshly ground pepper; sometimes some other seasoning, like a little lemon or ginger, but just as often not. The chicken roasts with the cover askew so that the skin crisps (completely covered, the chicken will tend to steam). The chicken always rests for 5 minutes or so before carving so that all the juices can redistribute in the meat.

One of the great classic roast chicken recipes uses the pot roasting method and adds 40 cloves of unpeeled garlic (yes, 40) along with a little wine and whatever other vegetables you might like. As the garlic roasts, its pungent flavor is tamed and it becomes almost subtle, infusing everything with its sweet flavor. The chicken is brought to the table in its pot, which was traditionally sealed with a flour and water paste under the rim of the lid. When the seal was broken and the lid lifted, the room was filled with a fantastic bouquet. Though I lose that effect, I like to remove the lid for the last 15 minutes of roasting, to crisp and brown the skin.

Ingredients

  • 1 4- to 5-pound roasting chicken
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ pound thick-sliced pancetta or bacon cut into large dice
  • 2 cups carrots cut thickly on the bias 2 small onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 2 cups celery cut into thick slices
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 40 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or your favorite canned broth
  • 2 cups dry white wine

Method

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Remove the giblets from the chicken and save for another use or discard. (I toss them all except the liver into a container in my freezer. When I have enough, I use them to make stock.) Rinse the chicken well, remove any excess fat, and pat dry. Tuck the wings behind the body and tie the legs and tail together so that the chicken will hold its shape. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a deep, heavy casserole and brown the chicken on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken, set aside, and pour out all but a tablespoon of the fat. Return the casserole to the heat, add the pancetta, and sauté until browned and crisp. Remove the pancetta and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, along with the carrots, onions, and celery, and sauté over medium heat until the vegetables are just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Return the chicken to the casserole and add the pancetta, garlic cloves, bay leaves, stock, and wine. Cover tightly and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the leg is pierced and the chicken is nicely browned.

Remove the chicken and vegetables from the pot, arrange them on a platter, and keep warm (covering it all with foil works fine). Discard the bay leaves and skim as much fat as possible from the juices left in the pot (it’s the clear liquid floating on top). Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables and the sauce on the side.