By Cat, Jul 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
The source recipe (1) refers to this cooking method of cooking a whole chicken as ‘pot roasting’ but it is more like braising because it is cooked in liquid, albeit at a hotter oven temperature. Alternately you can braise it on stove top; for this method I recommend cutting the chicken into pieces (breasts, legs, wings).
The recipe could also be used for whole, butterflied or halved game hens.
I got the best result when I braised at least the breast, which keeps it from drying out and improves the flavor.
Pot-Roasted/Braised Chicken with Spring Vegetables
This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1), and serves 4. It uses a whole chicken, trimmed, but you could also use 2 whole game hens (the cooking time will be different). It is pot-roasted in the oven, but you could do this on stove top or in a crockpot; I’ve added instructions for these alternate methods, if applicable.
If you cook on stove-top or in a crockpot, it is a slow-cooked, braised chicken; if you cook in oven at 400°F, it is not a slow roast, but you could certainly slow-roast at 250° for 3-4 hours and then raise temp to 450°-500°F for the last 20 minutes. For my oven-roast testing, I roasted at 350°F, then raised temp to 500°F for last 20 minutes
See testing, below, for both stove-top braise and oven roast. The instructions are written for cooking the chicken whole, but you can also cut it into pieces as I did for my stove-top testing.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- whole chicken, about 3.5 lb
- 10 oz cipollini (about 12 small) or other small onions
- 12 oz baby carrots with tops (about 12)
- 8 oz small crimini mushrooms or small button mushrooms
- unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup lard or coconut oil
- 3 cups dry white wine
- 3 cups homemade chicken stock
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or whole small chervil leaves
- 3-quart slow cooker, saucier, or Dutch oven
- 2-quart saucepan (except if using a saucier for the slow-roast)
- Cast iron pan (for browning chicken if using slow cooker for the braise)
- Prep chicken: Remove giblets and save for another use. Trim away excess fat (I also cut off the tail and nearby glands, as they have an unpleasant flavor that my Dad used to love). Cut off first two joints of the wings and reserve.
- Brining Chicken in roughly 1 gallon brine for 2 – 24 hours in refrigerator. Remove from brine, rinse and pat dry.
- Sprinkle chicken cavity with pepper. Truss, and then season outside with pepper as well. Note: If you don’t brine the chicken, season inside and out also with salt. Another note: instead of roasting the whole chicken, you can cut it into pieces.
- Meanwhile, prep the veggies: Cut greens off carrots leaving 1/2” of stem (reserve greens for another use). Clean mushrooms.
- Bring 1 quart of filtered water to a boil; add onions and cook 1 minute. Drain in colander, rinsing with cold water. Then peel off outer layers, leaving enough of the root end intact that the onions will stay whole during cooking.
- Preheat oven to 400°F, with rack in bottom third of oven.
- Brown chicken & veggies: Heat Dutch oven or cast iron pan over high heat. Add lard/coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add chicken, breast down; lower heat to medium high and cook, undisturbed, until nicely browned. Turn carefully with tongs so that skin doesn’t tear, to brown remaining sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet.
- Add carrots, mushrooms, onions, and reserved wing sections. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet using a slotted spoon.
- Pot-roast/braise: Discard fat from pot (if desired – I keep the fat), add wine and cook over high heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add stock and thyme, and return chicken to the pot (reserve veggies & wing tips). Bring liquid to a simmer, cover and braise in oven for 20 minutes. Remove pot from oven; increase oven to 500°F.
- NOTE: If using slow-cooker or stove top pot for the braise, the timing of the braise will be different: Slow cooker: cook on high setting for 3 – 3 1/2 hours or on low setting 6 – 7 hours. Add veggies and wing tips during last 20-30 minutes of cooking (on high) or last hour (on low). Saucier or Dutch oven on stove-top: cover and cook on medium high until steam is produced in the pan, then simmer for 3 – 4 hours. It should just steam (not boil); use a steel simmer plate, if necessary. Add veggies and wing tips during last 20-30 minutes of cooking.
- Preheat oven to 500° F during last 15 minutes of braise.
- Add veggies and wing tips to the pot and return to/place in oven, uncovered, and cook until breast registers 165° F, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Transfer veggies to a baking dish, cover and keep warm. Discard wing tips and thyme.
- Pour braising liquid into a container to separate the fat (if desired); remove as much fat as you wish, then pour liquid into 2 quart saucepan or saucier. Boil over medium-high heat until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Carve chicken into breast and leg pieces; separate thigh and drumstick, and cut remaining wing section from the breast. If chicken breasts are large (8 oz. or more), I cut each half breast crosswise, creating 4 pieces. Set backs aside to cool, then trim meat from bones and reserve for another use, such as chicken soup.
- Serve: Divide chicken and veggies among 4 shallow bowls and pour some of the sauce over all. Garnish with parsley or chervil and serve.
Testing Stove-top Slow-Roast 3/27/13: Didn’t brine chicken because there wasn’t time after it finally thawed, so I seasoned inside and out with salt and pepper. I could not find baby carrots with tops; used real baby carrots, trimmed & peeled. Also could not find small onions so used frozen pearl onions (did not parboil, as that was done before they were frozen). My chicken is almost 5 lb. I used only 2 1/2 cups vermouth as that is all I had, and 2 cups homemade stock. It took almost 1 hour to brown chicken and another 20 minutes to brown veggies & wing tips. Simmered bird in wine/broth in saucier on stove top, until breast reached 165°F, about 3.5 hours. Too late to eat so put in fridge until next day. Reheated 1 serving in 350°F oven (half of half breast, thigh, wing). Tasty but meat needed more salt, and breast was a little dry. Definitely could have benefitted from brining. Sauce and veggies were delicious!
Testing Oven Roast 7/4/13: Used only half a chicken, cutting that half as follows: one half-breas, one wing (cut off tip to be added near end of cooking time), and one leg (thigh & drumstick). Froze the other half chicken (without backs) for another use; froze giblets, backs & neck for making broth. Brined the half breast, which is very large; tempted to cut it in half crosswise, but will do that when ready to serve, so it won’t dry out. Salted dark meat of half-chicken, and peppered all pieces.
I’m eating low-carb so minimized amount of veggies; used 4-button mushrooms and quartered them since they are large. Used 6 fresh baby carrots and 8 frozen pear onions, thawed. Fresh thyme and parsley from my garden, and 2 cloves of garlic from last year’s crop. Bought a bottle of chardonnay because not enough vermouth left and liquor store is closed. I’d saved the 1/2 cup chicken-garlic sauce from a slow-roast game hen last week, so used that for part of the chicken stock, and 1 cup homemade stock for the remainder.
Browned chicken, then veggies on stove top in hot lard. Did not pour off fat before adding wine. Braised in oven at 350°F instead of 400°F, until breast reached 160°F, about 40 minutes. Raised oven to 500°F, added veggies and wing tip to pot and returned to oven, uncovered, for another 20 minutes, until the veggies were done and the chicken well browned. Result: Excellent! It was hard to resist eating all the veggies instead of saving some for the next meal. Chicken was perfectly tender and flavorful.
- Fine Cooking recipe (finecooking.com/recipes/pot-roasted-chicken-spring-vegetables.aspx)