Chicken in the pot

December 2, 2009

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Serves 4 with leftovers

This is a stove-top braise in very little wine and water, with tomatoes and onions. If you don’t have a large Dutch oven or a casserole that you can set on a burner, brown the bird in a large skillet, then cover it with heavy duty foil, and cook as directed.

1 large roasting chicken (4 to 5 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 medium onions, cut into eighths
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
Extra sprigs fresh thyme (for garnish)
1. Dry the chicken and clean the cavity. Season the bird inside and out with salt and pepper. Tuck 1 sprig of thyme into the cavity. Use kitchen string to tie the legs of the chicken together.

2. In a large Dutch oven that will hold the chicken with a little room at the sides, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, breast side down, setting the bird on one side of the breast. Do not move the chicken until it releases easily from the pan or you’ll tear the skin. When it’s time to turn the chicken, use two wooden spoons. Turn the chicken to the other breast. Add the tomatoes and onions at the sides of the pan.

3. Set the chicken on its back. Add the wine and water to the pan; bring the liquids to a boil. Tuck the remaining 4 thyme sprigs into the sides of the pan. Lower the heat and cover the pan. Let the liquid bubble very gently for 1 1/4 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees.

4. Remove the pot from the heat. Use the spoons to transfer the chicken to a warm platter. Let it rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

5. With kitchen shears, discard the strings. Remove both whole legs from the chicken. Snip them in the middle to separate the thighs and drumsticks. Arrange on a platter. Remove both wings with a 2-inch piece of breast attached to each one. Cut the breast from the carcass. Halve the breast lengthwise and crosswise to make 4 small pieces. Add all of the chicken pieces to the platter. Garnish the platter with thyme sprigs.

6. Heat the cooking juices until boiling. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. In 4 deep plates, serve each person chicken and cooking juices with some of the vegetables. Sheryl Julian