Make Ahead: The chicken can be baked a day in advance; let it rest, then carve, cover and refrigerate. To reheat, arrange the pieces in a single layer in a baking dish. Add enough chicken broth to cover the pieces halfway. Let the chicken come to room temperature, then reheat for 20 minutes in a 250-degree oven.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 4- to 5-pound chicken, preferably organic, gizzard packet reserved
- Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into small dice (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 medium carrot, cut into small dice (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 ribs celery, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 stem rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup low-sodium or homemade chicken broth, or more as needed
- Juice from half a medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon), plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- Chopped chives or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Thoroughly rinse the chicken, especially the cavity, in cold water; use paper towels to pat it dry. Season the bird all over with lots of salt and pepper. Bend the wingtips back and tuck them under the bird.
Heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven or casserole over medium-high heat until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the bird, breast side down; sear undisturbed for 5 minutes. If the chicken doesn't release easily, sear for 1 to 2 minutes more. Use tongs to turn the chicken over, making sure the wings stay tucked underneath.
Add the vegetables, arranging them around the chicken. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, then stir and add the herbs and garlic, along with the chicken neck and liver, if desired (for flavor).
Press a large piece of aluminum foil directly onto the chicken (molding it to the bird), with the excess foil draped over the side of the pot. Cover with the lid and bake for 50 minutes, until the internal temperature of the thigh registers 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (Residual heat will cause the temperature to rise by as much as 10 degrees.)
Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes, with the lid off and the foil loosened. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, making sure to first drain any juices into the pot. The chicken will be slightly browned, with skin that is more soft than crisp.
Use a carving knife to cut the chicken into 10 pieces: the wings (with tips trimmed off); legs; thighs, and the breast sides cut off the carcass and halved. Place in an ovenproof dish, tent loosely with foil and keep warm in the turned-off oven while you prepare the sauce. (Reserve the wingtips and carcass for another use, if desired.)
Set a strainer over a large fat-separator cup. (Discard the bay leaf, herb sprigs and the neck, liver, etc., if used.) Use a wooden spoon to dislodge any brown bits from the bottom of the pot, then strain the contents into the cup, pressing the vegetables with the spoon to extract as much juice as possible; discard the solids.
Discard or reserve the separated fat. Pour the rich chicken juices into a separate liquid measuring cup; there should be about 2/3 cup. Add enough chicken broth to total 1 cup; pour into a small saucepan. Add the lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl to form a slurry. Whisk into the saucepan, stirring for 30 seconds or so until a sauce forms that is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide the chicken among individual plates. Spoon a few tablespoons of sauce over each portion, then garnish with the chopped chives or parsley. Serve warm; pass the remaining sauce at the table.
VARIATION: To make citrus fennel poule au pot, substitute 1 cup chopped fennel stalks for the celery. Substitute a large pinch of saffron (1/2 teaspoon) for the rosemary. Add the zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon when the garlic and herbs are added.
From columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
Email questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.