This is another one of those recipes with a fuzzy background; I’m not sure where it originated (maybe Cook’s Illustrated?), but I can tell you where it ended up: in mah belly!
I use my gigantosaurus 6.75 quart Le Creuset. It’s almost a crime to own such a pot and not cook this chicken in it. It’s that good. Also, it’s one of those meals that has very little hands-on time, but looks really impressive in the end. I love that!
You will need:
- One whole chicken, giblets removed (but save them — here’s why)
- Half an onion
- A stalk or two of celery
- Olive oil for pan-frying
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- Fresh garlic – I used jarred (gasp!)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Put an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat your oven to 250 F
- In a food processor or by hand, chop your onion and celery — size doesn’t really matter — and add in the garlic
- Unwrap and pat the chicken dry with paper towels
- Heat a couple Tbsp. of olive oil in your dutch oven till hot, then ease in the chicken, breast side down, watching for splattering oil
- Sprinkle in your onion/celery/garlic mix along with some salt and pepper on and around the chicken
- Cook until the chicken is lightly browned (about 5 minutes), then stick a wooden spoon in the chicken and flip it over, breast side up
- Repeat browning on the other side
- Remove the pot from the heat, then cover with foil then the lid (we’re going for a mega-seal here)
- Now slide the pot into the oven and cook until breast registers 160 and thickest part of the thigh registers 175; this took me nearly two hours, for a 5.5 lb bird. If you’re using a smaller chicken (say around four pounds), check after an hour. A medium size one (up to five pounds or so) will be somewhere around 90 minutes, but always check the temp to be sure
- Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent it with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes
While the bird is resting (because, let’s face it, it’s had a hard day), you can make up some gravy:
- Strain the pot juices through a strainer or cheesecloth into a fat separator; you can throw away the onion/celery/garlic now
- Let that sit about 5 minutes to let the fat separate, then pour the juice into a saucepan — ideally you’ll have about 3/4 cup of juices
- Add about 1 tsp. lemon juice to the pan and simmer while The Yankee carves the chicken (have I mentioned how handy it is to have a husband who used to be a butcher?)
- Serve the gravy/sauce with the chicken. You can also thicken it with a bit of cornstarch* if you’re so inclined.
I served this with roasted broccoli and — what else — artisan bread.
Finally: stick the chicken giblets, the other half of the onion and a couple celery stalks in a bag or container and stash them in the fridge or freezer. Homemade chicken stock to come!
*Cornstarch now always makes me think of Eugene on Top Chef protesting, “Loooootts of housewives use cornstarch!” And I do, Eugene.