You see that gravy on the plate there? I have been calling it liquid gold because it was so, so good. You will be licking your plate clean, I can almost guarantee it. We recently received a Staub and this is another recipe from Molly Steven’s All About Braising using the cocotte. This was definitely a dish of a lot of firsts for me. This was the first time I ever cooked a whole chicken before, made stuffing from scratch (cooked inside the bird), and made such a delicious pan sauce. This may have been the best thing I ever made and it really was not too difficult at all. Like the pot roast it entailed many steps and a good few hours, but nothing was too technical or intimidating to take on. Again, this was a time consuming Sunday cooking event. I tried to time it so we ate before the AFC Championship game, but it took a little longer than expected and we ate at half time. Luckily since the Steelers had taken such a big lead my nerves were calm enough that I was able to eat!
You may be wondering what this is. Well, it’s rendering chicken fat AKA schmaltz. These two lumps of fat usually sit in the inner cavity of roasting chickens. Just trim them off and place them in a pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. The fat will melt off slowly and after about 20 minutes you will have a good amount of schmaltz to cook with. The schmaltz gets used in both the stuffing and in cooking the onions and carrots for the braise. If you don’t want to use schmaltz you can use butter or oil in it’s place. I have a feeling though that the use of this contributed to the whole “this is the best thing I ever made” thing. That and the fact that the chicken cooks with bacon on it too! Needless to say this is not exactly diet food :)
Like I said, this was my first time ever making stuffing before, particularly from scratch. Overall, I learned that it’s way better than the just add water variety and is pretty easy to do. Like so many things, homemade is just another level of better.
The bread. I used a ‘Tuscan White’ from Giant Eagle and ripped it up into 1″ pieces. I used some of the schmaltz to saute some onions (the recipe also called for celery but I omitted it for G) until they were translucent and soft. I tossed these with the bread along with some chopped ham, some fresh parsley and some salt and pepper. The recipe also called for pine nuts and currants- but I omitted these as well.
Looks good already doesn’t it?! Set this aside for the moment.
On to the bird… After washing it inside and out I had G cut off the wing tips. Set these aside along with the neck, heart and gizzard.
Season with salt and pepper, inside and out and then stuff with enough stuffing to fill the cavity. Place any leftover stuffing in a baking dish and set aside. Truss the chicken to close it up.
Next, heat some more schmaltz in the cocette and add onions and carrots (and celery if you like it).
Also add the wing tips, neck, heart and gizzard at this point and let saute and brown for about 10 minutes. Next add the herbs, lemon zest and seasoning. Saute for another minute before adding the wine. The recipe called for white wine but we didn’t have any. I used some hard cider instead and worked well. Once that’s up to a rapid boil, place the chicken on top.
Next lay four slices of bacon from head to tail and pour chicken stock over it.
Once the stock comes up to a boil cover the chicken with parchment paper and place the lid on the pot. Cook for 2-2.5 hours, basting every 30-40 minutes. When the meat between the thigh and the breast reaches 170 degrees it is done.
Once it is cooked, take it out of the pot and set it aside.
Place the reserved stuffing in the oven and let it brown.
Place the chicken back in the oven and turn it up to 475. Cook for another 10 minutes to get it nice and brown.
Meanwhile make the sauce… first tilt the pan and try to remove as much fat as easily possible. Retrieve the bay leaves, lemon zest, wing tips, neck, gizzard, and heart and then transfer the vegetables and cooking juices to a blender. Puree until smooth and transfer to a saucepan. Add a little bit of cream (we used half n half) to give it a nice creamy texture and reduce it until you are happy with the consistency.
Slice up the chicken and serve with the stuffing! The chicken was falling off the bone tender! I urge you to make this ASAP! If you don’t have a dutch oven you can also use a flameproof roasting pan (at least 3-4 inch sides).