Chicken Pot Roast

chickenpotroast

After cooking any number of roasts, I wanted to try a different method of cooking a whole chicken. Pot roast looked ideal because the bird is immersed in juices, and – for those running a busy household – has the added benefit of yielding some delicious stock suitable for freezing into cubes for future use in gravy and soup.

As this is a hob-to-oven recipe, you can either use one casserole dish that can take direct heat or fry everything off in a large pan and then transfer to a casserole for the oven. If you’re unsure if your casserole can sit directly on flame, then do the frying pan option to avoid picking bits of shrapnel out of your arms. This method won’t retain as much of the flavoury bits that form in one pot, but most people wouldn’t notice the difference.

As I tend to include tips that I’ve learnt in my experience in this entries, I would like to mention that all recipes should be read through once before you even go out for ingredients. You may find you don’t have the right equipment, the necessary number of clean pans, etc. This sounds obvious, but I’ll bet absolutely everyone has botched something due to bad preparation. Personally I’m with Anthony Worrall Thompson; I read recipe books like novels nowadays, picturing each recipe in my head and researching unique ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • knob butter
  • medium whole chicken (definitely not large unless you are prepared for a seriously long and messy time in the kitchen)
  • 10 rashers streaky bacon, chopped (this will be normal bacon in the States) or un-cooked lardons
  • 15-20 shallots (peeled and kept whole – just cut off the furry bottom of the stem)
  • 10 baby potatoes
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 40ml white wine
  • 1 litre hot chicken stock
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C or 160°C for a fan oven, and put the potatoes on to parboil (for about 5 or 10 mins, depending on how small the taters are)
  2. Remove giblets from the bird if it has them, and stuff with either half a lemon (cut lengthways) or stuffing of your choice
  3. Using either a casserole or frying pan (see above), heat the oil and butter
  4. You might need to remove the potatoes at this point, and set aside in a colander
  5. Brown off the chicken skin on all sides for between 8 and 10 mins, then set aside
  6. Get your kettle full of water and boiling – ready for the stock
  7. Raise the heat a bit and really sizzle the shallots for about 2 mins – bung in the lardons (chopped bacon) and continue for another 2 mins
  8. Add the potatoes and lower the heat – stirring all the time*
  9. Pour in the wine and reduce to half
  10. Either place the chicken back in the pot, or put it into the waiting casserole
  11. Mix the boiled kettle water with two stock cubes and pour into pot/pan – now switch off the hob
  12. Get everything assembled in the pot (with the thyme sprigs on top of the chicken to be removed easily after cooking)**
  13. Create a sort of shallow dish made from kitchen foil to capture any bubbled over liquid
  14. Put the lid on the casserole and pop in the oven for about 1hr15mins – or as long as directed by your butcher or on the chicken’s packaging***

* steps 7 and 8 are orchestrated to let each ingredient develop its own flavour, with the strongest (shallots) being mellowed first and the weakest (potatoes) going last to absorb the previous flavours

** this is where you can get some good stock for freezing – you’ll usually have too much liquid for the casserole, so just cover it and leave to cool before pouring into ice cube containers

*** You can remove the lid 15 mins before the end of cooking, but I preferred to wash up and start assembling pudding with my hour

I served up the two breasts of chicken with a few potatoes and some steamed veg for He Who Eats, all swimming in a pool of stock. He had been prowling around sniffing the air as it cooked, so he was really rather pleased to get his dish at last. The following smell of baking brownies filled him full of promise as well. (see entry after next)

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