Daily Archives: 22 May 2015
How did we get here? In October 2010, I joined a new cooking group, French Fridays with Dorie, a group taking up the challenge of cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. Each week, each member of the group cooked the same recipe and wrote about it on their blog on Friday. Week by week by week, here we are over four and a half years later cooking and sharing our last recipe from the book. We saved the cover recipe, Chicken in a Pot (the Lemon and Garlic version) to mark the milestone.
Looking at the cover photo week after week, year after year, the whole chicken with its burnished skin lying on a bed of vegetables, I always assumed chicken in the pot was a variation on roast chicken. Appearances can be deceiving. On reading the recipe, it turns out this is actually more of a braise. Either way it was delicious.
And easy! First, you brown the vegetables. Sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and FOUR HEADS OF UNPEELED GARLIC broken into cloves! I thought I had baby onions in the freezer, leftover from the Marengo, but I couldn’t find them. I did find two leeks in the refrigerator, so I halved them lengthwise and cut them into 1-inch pieces to stand in for the onions. The vegetables are transferred to a Dutch oven along with sprigs of herbs and some diced preserved lemon. (Did you know that Trader Joe’s now sells sliced preserved lemon in a jar?)
Then, you brown the chicken. I had thawed a whole chicken from the freezer in anticipation of making this version of a “roast” chicken, but when I realized my error, I ended up cutting it into pieces before browning. Much easier to manage on the stove and then the plate. (And there’s the added bonus of sautéed giblets for the dog.) The chicken pieces are nestled on top of the bed of vegetables.
A bit of liquid is poured over the top. I was out of chicken stock, so just used water instead, plus some white wine and olive oil.
Now comes the fun part! You make a simple flour and water dough, sort of like a soft Play-Doh, just like when we were in preschool, and roll it into a long sausage shape. The dough is pressed along the edge of the Dutch oven, and then the lid goes on top. The dough closes the gap between the pot and its lid, sealing in all the moisture as the chicken in the pot cooks in the oven for almost an hour.
I never tried this dough technique before, but it was definitely fun. The best part was popping it open with a screwdriver when dinner was ready!
I really enjoyed this recipe. The chicken remained moist. I had perched the chicken on top of the veggies, so the skin, while not crisp, wasn’t as soggy as it can get in a braise. The very best part was the sauce. While baking, the liquid in the pot created the most delicious gravy. I had to resist eating it all with a spoon. The chicken was good the first night and then afterwards as leftovers. It’s even company worthy. How perfect to finish up with a winner!
We aren’t quite done with this book. There are a few recap posts coming up over the next few weeks. I’ll wait until the “AMFT Grand Finale” to share my reflections as I look back on this unexpected journey. I might even try to fit in a few makeups for the handful of recipes I didn’t get around to.
For now, I will say that I joined the group for the personal challenge of actually trying every recipe in a book I owned. I was surprised to become part a community that I suspect will outlive the project we’ve just completed. The FFWD community has touched my life in ways I never could have anticipated with a wealth of learning experiences in the kitchen and out plus the added bonus of real-life friendships with people around the world who I would never otherwise have met. I am so proud of what we collectively created.
As a side note, on a solo road trip from Boston to Philadelphia and back this weekend, I was thrilled to share dinner with Tricia and Nana and lunch with Diane. I’m just sorry that, in the excitement, we forgot to take any pictures of us together.