Well my friends. Here we are. The final recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table for French Fridays with Dorie. I’ve cooked the whole book. Every recipe. What started as a little project I though I might take part in “when time permits” in October 2010 has turned into a huge part of my blog/life. I’ve learned SO much. I’ve made lasting friendships. And most of all, Neil, my family, friends, neighbours and colleagues(and I!) have eaten well. Very well.
Over the next few weeks, the French Fridays with Dorie crew will be looking back at some of the milestone moments over the past 4+ years to help ease us gently out of our Friday habits so, for now, let’s talk about this week’s recipe – Chicken in a Pot (the cover recipe, page 206). Ever since I’ve had this book, I’ve wanted to cook this recipe. I’ve read this recipe a number of times yet hadn’t really realised that this was NOT a roast chicken (as the cover might lead you to believe):
I mean, right – it just looks like a lovely chicken roasted nicely in some roasted veggies. In a pot. Sealed shut with a ring of dough. I’ll admit I hadn’t given much thought to what purpose what the dough ring might serve other than it looked pretty in the picture. Dorie says it seals the pot tight so the flavours infuse into the chicken better.
Ok, so I got that part down…
My first attempt at the recipe was using a whole chicken. The recipe calls for browning the chicken all over and I found that very challenging. It didn’t brown all that well and not evenly at all but I popped it into the pot (snugly, as the recipe called for) and sealed it tight with the ring of dough. I wondered about the quantity of liquid used for the amount of vegetables (I thought it was too much) and of course, with the pot sealed tight, none of it evaporated and my vegetables were soggy and the bottom half of my chicken was poached and falling off the bone tender. But the top was still only slightly brown. And the bottom of the chicken was purple because I had used heirloom carrots. So it really wasn’t pretty. We ate it and it tasted ok but it was underwhelming.
I re-evaluated the recipe, realising (thanks Trevor) that my expectations, not the recipe, were wonky. This is NOT a roast chicken. And I do so love a roast chicken. And roasted vegetables. So I guess because it didn’t meet THOSE expectations, it was underwhelming, even a little disappointing. I also don’t see the point of taking all the extra steps to cook this in an airtight sealed pot when roasting a chicken and vegetables is so easy. But hey, Dorie says, so…. I made it again.
This time with bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts which were MUCH easier to work with and get an even browning. Also, Neil was away last weekend and I didn’t think I needed to cook an entire chicken (again). I roasted the vegetables for a lot longer this time too, to get some caramelization going on the potatoes and onions, and I used about 1/2 the quantity of liquid the recipe called for.
MUCH better this time. Perhaps not quite what Dorie was intending but a compromise of sorts. If I’ve learned nothing over the past four years, 7 months and 21 days (thanks again Trevor for doing the count!), it’s that Dorie wants us to play with her recipes. Have fun. Experiment. Learn. Right Cher? So, even though I feel slightly guilty that I didn’t LOVE the final recipe, I know Dorie will be ok with that. I know she’ll be ok that I changed it up a little to suit myself better. And I also know she’ll be ok if I say you know what? After all that, I still prefer a good roast chicken.
I *am* sorry I didn’t get the magnificent shot of the whole roasted chicken in the pot. But hey, closing the book on some 300+ recipes, I can’t say there have been any more than maybe 5 recipes that didn’t turn out “well”. This is an excellent book. It’s a book I recommend almost daily to friends and colleagues looking for a “good basic French cookbook”.
Thanks, Dorie. It’s been a wonderful and tasty ride these past 4+ years.
Get the recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Chicken in a Pot (the garlic and lemon version) here.
French Fridays with Dorie participants do not publish the recipes on our blogs, we prefer if you purchase Around My French Table for yourselves which you can do here on Amazon or Amazon Canada. Or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository.
Please note: The product links from Amazon, Amazon.ca and The Book Depository are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
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