5.4.2020 – Nikki on Cooking Casserole-Roasted Chicken
5.4.2020 - Nikki on Cooking Casserole-Roasted Chicken Heading link
Bonjour, ça fait longtemps! A little French comfort food, anyone? In honor of the final week of the semester, I decided to celebrate my love for French culture by preparing a traditional roast chicken recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
First and foremost, it must be said that bacon, butter, and potatoes is the greatest combination to ever grace the palette. I blame this obsession on my Lithuanian heritage, though I think that most people can agree that it’s hard to go wrong with a dish that includes these elements.
Detour: if any are interested in a traditional Lithuanian dish (which is pretty much always equivalent to a preparation of bacon, butter, and potatoes), search a recipe for Kugelis and na štai! *Do not dare forget to top it off with some sour cream.
This week’s recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking is “Poulet en Cocotte Bonne Femme” (see below) which roughly translates to “good wife casserole-roasted chicken” or “housewife chicken”…interesting, not sure how I feel about that one. Moving on- this recipe was a major step for me, considering that most of the ‘roast’ chicken I eat is conveniently found in the frozen aisle at the grocery store where it is often decorated with the word “Banquet” on lovely red packaging. Now, just because I’ve recently been attempting to cook real food does not mean that I’m breaking up with my TV dinners! That relationship is long-lasting and I refuse to ultimately betray the questionable frozen food that has sustained me for the length of my college experience thus far.
Scroll down for the recipe!
So when it was time to start cooking on Thursday night, my mom was very amused with the idea of me preparing a legitimate entrée. She quite literally sat down at the table with a glass of wine to watch me struggle, claiming that she had to witness my first time cleaning a whole chicken. I have to be honest, I expected that the chicken came oven-ready (blame it on my extensive experience with frozen foods), so I was a little taken-aback when I had to pull out the giblets. All was well though, and I washed the chicken like a seasoned professional.
As you could probably tell, there was a lot of preparation for what seemed like a simple roast chicken. Anxious as I was though, it turned out edible and I even received compliments from my dad (who’s a harsh critic). Though I also realized that after preparing dinner for 2 hours, I had grown tired of looking at the food and didn’t want to eat it. You win some and you lose some, I guess. I also learned a few things that will be useful in my future chicken quests, including that I cannot peel a potato for my life. I believe I was standing at the garbage can hacking at the same potato for nearly 15 minutes when my mom had to swoop in to save the day (the big guns). I am not exaggerating when I say that that woman peeled fifteen potatoes in the time it took me to peel one. If it wasn’t for her, I would probably still be peeling potatoes 3 days later (reference SpongeBob image). I also learned that apparently I despise bay leaf. Even though I only added one bay leaf to each herb bouquet, it was too overpowering and took away some of the bacon flavor (would recommend leaving this ingredient out). Though it was still tasty, I will not be making this again in the near future; perhaps I would do better with a simpler chicken that I can unwrap and throw in the microwave.
Poulet en Cocotte Bonne Femme
½ lb chunk of bacon
Casserole for the chicken
1 Tb butter
A 3 lb. whole chicken, trussed and buttered
20 peeled white onions (pearl onions)
1 to 1 ½ lbs. small new potatoes
3 Tb butter
¼ tsp salt
2 small herb bouquets: parsley, bay leaf, and thyme
A bulb baster
Cover for the casserole
Remove the whole chicken from packaging and pull out the giblets. Wash the chicken thoroughly with cold water.
Prepare the pearl onions by boiling them in water for 30 seconds, and then quickly submerge them in ice-water. Holding the onion by the stem, pinch the onion so that it slips out of the skin. Boil the onions in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain the water and set the onions aside in a bowl.
Cut the bacon into small rectangular pieces (½ inch by 1 ½ inches). In 2 quarts of water, simmer the bacon pieces. After 10 minutes of simmering, rinse the bacon with cold water, dry, and then sauté it in butter for 3-5 minutes (in the casserole). Remove the bacon and place it in a side dish for later use.
Using the leftover bacon fat in the casserole, brown both sides of the chicken. Remove it to another side dish and wipe out the grease from the casserole. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Peel the new potatoes and cut into halves/quarters. Place them in a pot of cold water and use medium-high heat to bring to a boil. Drain the water and set potatoes to the side.
Melt the 3 Tb butter in the casserole so it is foaming and add the potatoes. Spread them in the butter for about 2 minutes. Push one half of the potatoes to one side of the casserole and the second half to the other side of the casserole. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and place it in the casserole, breast up. Cover the potatoes with the bacon and the onions, with one herb bouquet on one side of the casserole and the other on the opposite side. With the baster, coat all of the casserole’s contents with butter. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and place the casserole cover on. Heat the casserole on the stove until everything is sizzling and then remove the cover to roast in the center of the oven for 80 minutes (or until golden brown). Remove the casserole and baste the chicken and contents with more butter and the juices in the pot. Bon appetit!
Et c’est tout folks! In these brief reviews, I hope I was able to provide a little taste of French culture along with some useful recipes to try at home. I will be continuing to cook with Julia Child over the summer so that, hopefully, I won’t depend (as much) on TV dinners next semester. Keep in mind that through cooking and reading, you can travel to France within your own home. Bon été et bon appétit!
Child, J., Bertholle, L., & Beck, S. (2001). Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Distributed by Random House. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.