Monday, January 24, 2011

Herb-Braised Chicken Halves

What a weekend!  It seems that we'll be able to check out our potential wedding venue next Tuesday!  We're pretty sure this is THE one!  We had breakfast at Toast on Market, which happens to be right next door to the venue... so we just walked around it a bit, and you know, I just got that feeling.  That it was the right choice.  Am I crazy?  Or do I just have that wedding-planning bug?  Either way, the fact is... we're so close to settling on a date, a venue... which means that this wedding is sooooo gonna happen!  Not that I didn't think it was, but you know, the more that is set in stone, the more real it all feels!

And we committed to a photographer this weekend too!  It's my friend Adam who does some awesome work, and he's cutting us a great deal, so it was extremely hard to resist! 

So our tentative date is April 28th of next year, so hopefully we'll be able to book that date next Tuesday when we check out the whole place!  Cross your fingers!

I sound like an elated school child don't I?  I just can't help it!

Anyway, let's talk chicken.  A while back, Sommer, over at A Mama With Flavor, posted a recipe about how she cooked a chicken in a dutch oven.  I'm sure this is somewhat common, but to me, it was a totally new way of cooking chicken.  I was quite intrigued.  Especially since my favorite part of a chicken is the crispy skin!  This would have no crispy skin, but it would definitely render a tender and moist chicken, that rivals even the best of the crispy-skinned chickens that I've cooked!  So thanks for planting that seed in my head Sommer, because I finally took the plunge and cooked a chicken in the dutch oven, and I quite possibly may never go back to the regular roasting method again!


Didn't want to get all that chicken juice on my new cutting boards!

4 lb. whole chicken
salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup madeira wine 
3-4 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5-8 sage leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle both sides with salt.  You can be somewhat generous, but don't overkill here.  Place chicken in glass bowl or dish and cover.  Refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours.

Take chicken out of refrigerator and wash off salt.  Pat dry.

In a large dutch oven (big enough to fit the whole bird and cover it) under medium high heat, add olive oil.  Add chicken and sear until both sides are a golden brown, about 10-15 minutes total.  Remove chicken and set aside.

Add garlic, celery, carrots, and onion to dutch oven.  Cook until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes or so.  Stir in tomato paste and cook for another minute.  Add madeira wine and cook until it is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine butter, sage, and thyme in a small bowl.  Spread the butter mixture underneath the skin of the chicken and on top of it.  This will ensure good flavor throughout the meat and keep a little moisture too.

Carefully place chicken back into dutch oven and pour about 3 cups of chicken stock into the pot.  Cover and place in oven.  Roast for about 1 & 1/2 hours or until chicken is white throughout. 

Carefully remove chicken from pot and let rest on cutting board for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring liquid from pot to a boil on stovetop.  Remove about 1 cup of the stock and mix it with the flour in a small bowl.  When flour is dissolved into stock, slowly pour back into dutch oven.  Whisk until mixture has thickened slightly.  Strain the vegetables from the pot, and at this point, you can either save them, throw them out, or use them as a side.  I don't like wasting things so I just served the vegetables alongside our chicken. 

Cut chicken in half and serve alongside vegetables or chosen side.  Spoon gravy over top, if desired.

Seriously, this was a great idea.  The meat was probably the most tender I've ever had, and the flavor was just amazing!  Definitely try roasting a chicken in a dutch oven if you get a chance!  Enjoy guys!


  1. Yum, that chicken looks fantastic. I like the idea of a moist, flavorful chicken cooked in a Dutch oven. The ingredients look great. I'm glad you've found a venue. Enjoy every minute of this process. It's good stuff.

  2. That chicken looks delicious!! (my mouth started watering when I saw the first picture!!)

    Congrats on finding a venue!!

  3. What a hearty looking chicken!! You're making me very hungry, Peggy. Time for lunch! Haha.

  4. This is just too good!:)) Looks amazingly delicious!

  5. Wow! Things are really coming together - how exciting. I'm loving this classic recipe.

  6. Congrats to you getting closer to arrangements of your big day, this braised chicken halves looks delicious.

  7. Though you've done it for the 1st time, it turns out great! Love your photos too..

  8. I have never cooked anything in a dutch oven either. That chicken looks fantastic!

  9. Chicken looks flavorful and delicious.Best wishes to you.

  10. Wow, sounds like you're having some exciting times. That chicken looks like a dinner for kings, just delicious.

  11. Looks good - chicken is always a winner and it's fun to try out new ways to cook it :-)

    My best,

  12. Hi Peggy, as you know from one of my last posts I just got a Dutch oven, so this os the recièpe for me. I have been thinking of making chicken in it...but like you, the crunchy skin is my favorite part so I wasn't quite sure. You convinced me.

  13. Yay! I'm so happy for you guys!

    And that chicken looks beautiful! I don't think I've ever said that about a bird before. But in this case, it's true.

  14. SO many things to woohoo about in the post haha!

    First off, congrats in findining a venue! I am so excited to see the results, I am pretty sure it will be absolutely fabulous! And so happy you found a photographer! I will check out your friend Adam's site now. Wedding planning is so hard...I am nervous about my small renewal!

    Sooo happy you liked the chicken! Cook's Illustrated is awesome. I was pleasantly surprised, too. This chicken is amazingly tender, juicy and flavorful. You're making me want to try it again in the near future!

  15. What a great post; congratilations!
    That chicken spells true comfort food for me; will have to try that recipe.

  16. Great recipe. I could easily eat a half of your chicken. Thanks for the recipe.



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