I know this is will be a shocking disclaimer – and there are many people who may doubt my bona fides as a home-cook after I say this, but … I don’t like pot roast.
Yes, it’s a classic dish. Yes, it’s a great way to feed a family. Yes, braising is a wonderful way to cook meat and keep it moist, blahblahblah. But, at the end of the day, I like my roast beef to be red on the inside and, well, meaty. Not pull-apart-able and brown. I mean … BROWN, fercryingoutloud! That’s just over-cooked, that’s all that is.
So, because of this prejudice, I tend to see the words “pot roast” in any cookbook or magazine and happily turn the page. Until this week, when I saw a recipe for pot-roasted chicken – then, I thought this my be totally do-able. But, when I read the recipe for what was supposed to be a “hunters’ sauce”, I thought it needed work, so this is what I came up with and, holy Moses, is it good. How good is it? Let’s just say that there aren’t nearly enough leftovers for another night’s dinner for both of us. Score!
To make this work, you need a casserole dish that is deep enough to hold the chicken and still get the lid on.
- olive oil
- 6 slices of bacon
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 2 parsnips, trimmed, peeled and diced
- 1 large carrot, trimmed peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, trimmed, halved lengthwise and diced
- 2 fat garlic cloves, mashed and minced
- 4 oz. button mushrooms
- 1 wine-glass of red wine (I used a Côte du Rhone and it was perfect)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1 whole chicken (3-5 lbs)
- drizzle garlic oil
Preheat oven to 325 F.
If you have a flame-proof casserole dish like Le Creuset, you can do this all in one pot. As I do not, this is how I do it:
In a very large frying pan, heat a good glug or two of olive oil over medium-high heat (this should be enough to give the bottom of the pan a thin coating). When shimmering, add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove and set aside on a paper towel to drain. If there is loads of grease, drain excess as necessary to keep the fat to just coating the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped onions, parsnips, carrot and celery to the pan and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are lightly browned. Add the garlic and stir in thoroughly before adding the mushrooms and cooking for another two to three minutes. Add the wine and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan before adding the tomatoes. Stir and cook a bit (about two minutes) to let the sauce thicken a bit, then add the chicken stock and crumbled- or chopped-up cooked bacon. Taste for seasoning, then adjust as necessary. Add the tarragon and paprika and stir thoroughly before pouring the lot into a deep casserole dish. Set the chicken on top (the liquid should be about half-way up the chicken’s thighs), then drizzle the top of the chicken with the garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover with the lid and pop in the oven for an hour. After that, take the lid off and baste the chicken with the sauce every 10-15 minutes for the next hour.
I served this with mashed potatoes and it was scrumptious. No other word for it. Scrump. Tious.