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Poulet en Cocotte

19 Jun


Poulet en Cocotte is French for “Chicken in a Pot”, which is hardly a very appetizing name–but at least the chicken is delicious!  The first half of the recipe is pretty hands-off and the sauce in the second half is simple as well.  I actually made this chicken and the sauce last for a whole week of leftovers…and now that I’m writing about it, I’m craving it again.  Would it be bad to have chicken for 2 full weeks in a row?

A word of warning: part of what makes this recipe so easy is that you don’t brown the chicken first and the chicken isn’t going to brown very much in the pot, so you’re going to end up with a relatively light colored bird.  Cooks Illustrated is always on this obsessive quest for browned crispy skin on chicken and turkey but, truthfully, I don’t particularly care one way or the other so this recipe suits me just fine.

Poulet en Cocotte
recipe slightly modified from The Best International Recipe cookbook
Serves 4, or a week of leftovers for 1

  • 1 roasting chicken (approx 5 lbs), giblets discarded
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, sliced thin
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Make sure the chicken doesn’t have giblets hiding inside, and if there are, pull them out and discard.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil, shallots and garlic cloves to a large Dutch oven and lay the chicken on top, breast side up.
  2. Cover and bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees in the center of the breast, about 1 hour. If you don’t have a meat thermometer of any kind, use your best chicken-judgement skills: make sure the meat is not pink and the juices run clear.
  3. Tip the chicken to drain the juices from the cavity back into the pot you roasted it in. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest while finishing the sauce–I promise it will stay piping hot for a loooooong time.
  4. Pour all the cooking juices into a fat separator and set aside to settle, about 3 minutes.  I don’t have a fat separator right now, so I just put it into a measuring cup, let it settle, and then spooned the fat off the top as best I could. Pour the defatted juices back into the pot and stir in the wine, broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup, 5-10 minutes.
  5. Off heat, remove the bay leaves, whisk in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Full disclosure: I don’t actually love onions and shallots, so I spooned the shallots out of the sauce at this point. But I don’t suggest this unless you’re just picky like me.

If you’re serving this for dinner for more than just yourself, carve the chicken up and serve the sauce in a gravy boat. If it’s for a less formal occasion (i.e: me standing over the kitchen counter at 11pm on a Sunday night), let the chicken cool (so you don’t burn your fingers…learn from my example) and tear it down into pieces directly into the tupperware. Dip pieces of chicken into the pan of gravy as you are breaking down the chicken, pop directly into your mouth and voila: dinner!  Don’t forget to save the sauce, too–it’s what really makes the chicken worth eating all week.

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