Sunday, December 30, 2007

Vacation Cooking

There’s something special about vacation cooking for me. A plethora of time both for prep and cooking cinches it. There isn’t that rush to have everything ready ½ hour after you get home from work- just the luxury of time.

I’ve been wanting to try out the Chicken in a Pot recipe in the January/February 2008 issue of Cook’s llustrated since receiving it. This recipe is the epitome of vacation cooking – easily obtained ingredients (some may say pedestrian), little prep time, and a long cooking period, not to mention, a promised fabulous end product. I was not disappointed in the least.

I will say that buying quality ingredients when there are so few involved is a fundamental part of cooking. I found a beautiful natural chicken at Whole Foods. I opted for that rather than the organic for two reasons: a) the 50¢ per pound difference and b) the natural just looked better. Maybe it’s me but a pallid chicken is not one I want to buy. Give me a nice yellowy fatty chicken any day!

I didn’t have the celery called for in the recipe but I did have carrots. I planned on roasting a bunch as a side anyway so I did a little aromatic switch-a-roo. I don’t have any complaints based on the final product.

So here’s a little vacation cooking courtesy of Cook’s … my family enjoyed it and I hope yours will as well.

Chicken in a Pot
Serves 4ish

1 whole chicken (4 ½ to 5 pounds), giblets removed
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 250ºF with oven rack on the lowest position. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a heavy cast iron Dutch oven (I have a Le Creuset that I love) until just smoking. Add the chicken breast side down, scatter aromatics and herbs around it. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Flip the bird over by shoving a wooden spoon in the cavity and manhandling it over. Cook until well browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Cover the entire shebang with aluminum foil then with the lid of the Dutch oven. Place in the preheated oven for 80 to 110 minutes. Check the thigh temp with an instant read – it should be 175º.

Transfer the bird to a cutting board and cover with foil to keep warm. Let sit for 20 minutes. In the meantime strain out all the lovely bits left in the pan, keeping the liquid. Defat and warm up. Add a little lemon juice for brightness.

Serve the carved bird with a little pan sauce. Should there be leftovers I’ve a recipe coming in the next few days that will look after them.


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