I don’t know what to call this dish. It’s not poule au pot. Technically, poule au pot is stuffed, trussed and poached in a dutch oven. Lots of stock goes into the pot along with the chicken. It’s almost like a really rich soup.
This is not stuffed. It’s roasted. But it’s not really roasted because it’s sealed in a pot. Very confusing. Damn tasty though. Really, really good. I call it poule au pot re-imagined. It’s a stretch but I have nothing better.
The amazing thing about this dish is how the flavours from the aromatics permeate the chicken. It’s not like anything you’ve ever had. And the sauce. The sauce is nothing more than the juices of the chicken and aromatics. Complex and simple at the same time. To top it off, the aromatics are meltingly tender. It all just comes together in a most unexpected way.
Browning the chicken before it goes into the oven is key. It won’t take on colour after it goes into the pot. If you don’t take the time to brown it well, you will have one sorry looking (but still delicious) bird. The sauce will be a lot richer as well. Browning it well renders most of the fat. This recipe is a leap of faith. I only make it for my real foodie friends. I don’t know that everyone would get it. If you get French food take the plunge. What do you have to lose?
- 3 Tbsp butter total
- 3 Tbsp olive oil total
- 1 3-4lb chicken, grain fed, air chilled
- 1 large or 2 medium leeks, white portion only, cut into 4 inch lengths and quartered
- 4 large shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 carrots, cut into 4 inch pieces
- salt and pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 375F.
- Melt 2 Tbsp each of olive oil and butter over medium heat in a dutch oven large enough to hold the chicken and vegetables.
- Rub the chicken with olive oil then season with salt and pepper.
- Brown the chicken thoroughly, regulating the heat to prevent burning. This will take 15 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the dutch oven, discard the fat and wipe out the pot.
- Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp each of olive oil and butter.
- Add the aromatics and a good pinch of salt. Salt is critical at this point but you need to be careful not to oversalt at the same time.
- Return the chicken to the pot. Place a piece of aluminum foil over the pot and then cover with the lid.
- Roast for about 1 hour.
- Remove chicken from the pot and place the pot with vegetables and accumulated juices over medium heat to reduce slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Carve the chicken into quarters - 2 legs, 2 breasts. Mound a portion of the vegetables in the middle of the plate. Add a few spoonfuls of the sauce and top with chicken.
- Cornichons, dijon mustard and salt are the traditional accompaniments to real poule au pot. They work well here as well.