Poulet en Cocotte (Chicken in a Pot)
Andy Anderson !
Little to no liquid is added to the pot as the chicken slowly bakes in its own juices At Cordon Bleu, this is one of the first things we did in the kitchen.
I've added one step, and that's brining the chicken in a salt/wine/water solution for about three hours before baking.
FOR THE BRINE
1 cwhite wine
1 ckosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
1 cgranulated sugar
CHICKEN IN A POT
1whole chicken, 5 pounds, organic if possible
2 tspkosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1 Tbspolive oil, extra virgin
1 stalk(s)celery, medium chop of about 1/4 cup
1 mediumyellow onion, medium chop of about 1/2 cup
6 mediumgarlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
1 mediumbay leaf
How to Make Poulet en Cocotte (Chicken in a Pot)
- For the Brine
Place the salt and sugar into a bowl large enough to contain the water/wine and the chicken, and can fit into your refrigerator.
Mix until all of the ingredients are absorbed into the water.
Immerse the chicken into the brine, and place the bowl into the refrigerator for about three hours.
- Chef's Note: What is brining?
Brining meats before cooking them is a very effective way to increase the moisture and tenderness of the meat. Brining is similar to marinating, but uses a simpler liquid for soaking the meat.
The process of soaking meat in salted water causes the meat's cells to absorb some of the water through osmosis, making it moister when cooked.
What about that sugar?
Sugar, while not essential to a brine, is a useful ingredient. Adding sugar to a brine will increase the amount of caramelization achieved when cooking the chicken.
A good rule of thumb is to add the same amount of sugar by volume as salt.
Kosher versus Table Salt
When it come to brining, kosher and table salt to about the same thing... So why the difference in measurement?
Well, kosher salt has a larger grain than table salt, so there is more air between the salt particles. When you use 1 cup of kosher salt, or 1/2 cut of table salt, you're basically getting the same amount of salt.
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250f (120c).
- Remove the chicken from the brine, and pat dry with paper towels, or a clean kitchen towel, and then season with some salt and pepper.
Chef's Note: If you're using a kitchen towel (my method) make sure that you immediately throw that towel into the wash, and don't use it for anything else.
- Heat the oil in a large dutch oven, over medium heat, until the oil just begins to shimmer, and throws off wisps of smoke.
- Place the chicken, breast-side up in the dutch oven, and scatter onion, celery, and bay leaf around the chicken.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are browned... As well as the bottom of the chicken. This should take from 8 to 10 minutes.
- Place the lid on the dutch oven, and put in the preheated oven, and bake until an instant-read thermometer hits 160f (71c) when inserted into the thickest part of the breast. This should take from 80 to 110 minutes.
Chef's Note: Make sure that the probe is not hitting any bone.
- Transfer chicken to carving board, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Chef's Note: Allowing the chicken to rest will help to redistribute the juices that have been hiding out inside the chicken.
- While the chicken is resting...
Strain the chicken juices from the dutch oven through a strainer into a fat separator Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.
Discard solids, and that should leave you about 1cup of liquid.
Allow liquid to settle about 5 minutes, then remove the fat from the liquid, and then pour into a small saucepan.
Set saucepan over low heat, and allow to slowly simmer for about 10 minutes.
Chef's Note: Since the chicken is resting for 20 minutes, this should give you ample time to de-fat and simmer the chicken juices.
Chef's Note: This is a simple dish, so these juices are not, technically, defined as a sauce... they are just warmed up juices from the chicken, but OH are they packed with flavor.
- Carve the chicken, and serve with the a jus (juices), at the table.
- Serving Suggestions:
This is just the main course. You can serve this dish with any number of sides. How about some long-grain white rice, or some smashed golden potatoes.
I've made this for clients by using a bed of cheesy garlic mashed potatoes, placed the carved chicken on top, and then drizzled some of the a jus over the top.
For a veggie, I might use garden fresh green beans, or maybe some steamed broccoli.
Keep the faith, and keep cooking...