If I had to pick only one meat dish to eat for the rest of my life it would probably be roasted chicken. A well seasoned bird, roasted at high heat, with crispy skin and super juicy flesh is simple, insanely delicious, and is pretty much the best thing you can do with a chicken (sorry fried chicken fans). As good as it is, however, I can’t help but experiment. Maybe it’s just an excuse to get more roasted chicken in my belly, but I’ve been playing around with a pot-roasted version, in a sauce with some of my favourite things, and it’s definitely won a place in my roasted chicken-loving heart. It’s a little bit more challenging to get the nice brown and crispy skin that you would normally find on a roasted chicken, as the chicken spends some of its roasting time under a lid, but what I like to do is carve it and then put the pieces under the broiler for a minute or two, with maximum skin exposure, striking a balance between juicy flavourful meat and perfect skin.
Today’s pot roasted chicken is made with shallots, garlic, thyme, preserved lemons and green olives. You can find preserved lemons in a well stocked supermarket, a specialty food store, or if you’re extra brave, you can even make them yourself. You can certainly substitute lemon juice and zest, but preserved lemons are extra briny and have a depth of flavour that fresh lemons can only dream of. All of these lovely ingredients are simmered in a wine-based sauce and there’s a pretty special exchange going on between that sauce and the chicken. The super flavourful and aromatic sauce flavours the chicken, and in turn, the chicken yields its juices to flavour the sauce. How cool is that? I served it with buttery egg noodles and super tender haricots verts, but you can substitute your favourite sides instead.
- 1 whole chicken
- salt and pepper, to season
- olive oil, butter, or your favourite neutral cooking oil
- 6 shallots, cut into wedges
- 8 small cloves of garlic (~1/2 head), smashed and peeled
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/3 cup whole green olives (pits removed)
- 1 Tbsp. rinsed and finely chopped preserved lemon rind (see note for substitution suggestion)
- 4 sprigs of thyme + more for garnish or 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
- buttered egg noodles
- lightly steamed hericots verts in your favourite mustardy vinaigrette
- Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper, preferably 1-2 days in advance to allow the salt to penetrate the chicken.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place a medium (just big enough to snugly fit the chicken) dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add enough oil or butter to lightly coat the bottom of the pot and sauté the shallots and garlic until fragrant and just starting to brown.
- Add the wine, increase heat to medium-high, and simmer to reduce, until the smell coming from the pot is no longer boozy. It'll take a few minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, simmer for a few more minutes, then stir in the preserved lemon and olives and simmer for another minute or two. Note that I didn't season the sauce with salt, as preserved lemons and olives are usually salty enough. Use your judgement here and make sure to season with salt if you're omitting either of those ingredients or substituting fresh lemon.
- Tuck in the thyme sprigs, place the chicken in the sauce, and spoon some of the sauce over the chicken to coat it. Cover and roast for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the oven. Increase heat to 425°F. Remove the lid and baste the chicken with the sauce again. Return to the oven (this time uncovered) and roast for another 15 - 25 minutes, until the internal temperature registers at 160°F. It's a bit of a fine line here to get browning on the skin without overcooking the chicken. It's better to take it out sooner, even if it doesn't brown all the way, and quickly broil the individual pieces after carving (that's what I did). Don't overcook the chicken.
- If making the roasted lemon slices, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the thin slices without any overlap. Roast for about 10 minutes, beside the chicken, at 425°F, keeping a close eye on them. Some charred edges are really nice, but they'll burn quickly (mine were pretty close).
- Once the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and reduce or season with salt and/or pepper if necessary. If it's too salty, you may want to dilute it with some additional chicken stock and simmer, with a few sprinkles of flour, to thicken.
- Carve the chicken. If you want to brown the skin a little bit more, arrange the pieces in a shallow baking dish with maximum skin exposure, and broil on high for a minute or two. Wait to slice the breasts if you're doing this, as it's quick to overcook. Serve with a generous amount of sauce spooned over top, roasted lemons, and egg noodles + haricots verts on the side.
Preserved lemons can range in salinity quite a bit. I used my own, which were made with significantly less salt than most commercial preparations. Rinse them well to remove any excess salt before chopping. You can also substitute with the zest and juice of half a lemon, but add more olives or season with additional salt if you're not using preserved lemons.