A new twist on an old French classic. Ever since I found my first and very versatile recipe for pot-roasting chicken it has become my absolute method of choice for cooking a whole bird. You end up with meat as moist as if it were poached but with the full roast flavour, and a quantity of delicious chickeny flavoursome juices to use as they are or to treat to some onward embellishment – as here. I’ll be serving just the breasts of the chicken tonight with the velvety cream and grape sauce, so there will be plenty of luscious leg meat and a carcass to play with tomorrow.
- 1 x 1.6kg chicken
- 1 onion very finely sliced
- A couple of peeled and bruised garlic cloves
- 1 small bunch of thyme
- 300ml white wine
- As many white grapes as you fancy in your sauce, I went for 20 [c.100g]
- 150ml single cream
Preheat your oven to 190˚C. Lay a single thin layer of sliced onion over the base of a heavy lidded pot which will comfortably accommodate your chicken. Season the chicken cavity and then cram in the bunch of thyme. This is another benefit of pot roasting; both bird and juices can be imbued with the flavour of your chosen herbs with no tiresome picking or chopping [perhaps a little bruising] by simply shoving a bunch of whatever it is up the poor beast’s bottom.
Sit the chicken on its scant mattress of onion, push the rest of the sliced allium and the bruised garlic around the sides, pour over the wine and season with salt and pepper. Place the pot on the hob and heat until simmering, then place the tight fitting lid on top and give it 45 minutes covered in the oven. After the first ¾ of an hour take off the lid and return uncovered to the oven for a further 45 minutes. With 10 minutes of cooking time to go I brushed the exposed surfaces of tonight’s bird with some caramelised Verjuice syrup to give additional flavour and golden brown lustre to the skin. These timings have never failed me for a foul of this size but you can use the usual ‘juices running clear from the thickest part of the thigh’ test to be sure.
Carefully remove the chicken [the cavity will be full of liquid and the tender wings will likely fall away] and allow it to rest, covered loosely with foil. As it rests reduce the cooking liquor by a third to a half, then add the cream and allow this to bubble and thicken slightly. However intense the cooking juices seemed this will have been mollified considerably by the cream so check and adjust the seasoning. A splash of white Verjuice around now wouldn’t go amiss either [sadly my bottle was empty]. Finally add the grapes and allow them to heat through.
The pot-roasted bird will be very moist so carve on something which can catch the juices, serve your choice of cuts and pour over the sauce. This is relatively rich so keep the accompaniments simple. We had steamed green beans and some minted new potatoes with a knob of mint butter, which you can gently crush into the creamy, grapey sauce on your plate.