Despite the ever-increasing to-do list on our troublesome new digs, I'm still entertaining my newly-minted wife compulsion to cook a somewhat impressive meal for my husband as often as I can. I've been quite adventurous in the kitchen the past week, tackling new dishes like braised short ribs, flat iron steak with lemon and pepper, and chicken in a pot.
Per my previous thoughts, grown men really do like to eat a lot of meat. A lot of meat - thus the onslaught of animal flesh invading my kitchen.
But I take quite a bit of joy in filling his belly on my day off when he's spent the majority of the day at work chasing hoodlums around in his cruiser. Or maybe I take some sort of sick pride in packing him leftovers the next day knowing that his lunch will be way better than what all the other officers packed.
I'm a smug wife.
In the week leading up to our wedding, my now-husband left me a gift outside my door each morning for five days prior to the day. Good people, it was like Christmas each morning! First, a Willow Tree; then, a new camera bag; thirdly, two woodsy owl pillows; next, pearl earrings to wear on our wedding day; and lastly, a hefty bright orange cast iron pot. The man knows his stuff.
I cannot tell you how many recipes I've skipped over due to my lack of stovetop-to-oven cookware, the braises I passed up, the roasts that never came to be! My options for dinner are eternally expanded! This dish requires a bit of chopping prep-work, but you'll be rewarded for your efforts when you pop the lid open and the fragrant haze of garlic, lemon, and thyme wafts out of the pot. With a loaf of crusty French bread and plenty of butter, we huddled around the pot and sopped up the juices from the bottom of the pan, smearing the soft garlic bits onto our nubs of baguette and singing the praises of the that bright orange pot.
The original recipe called for a preserved lemon, but our new town isn't the type to carry such an item and I didn't want to wait three weeks to make my own, so I used a squeeze of fresh lemon juice instead. If you happen to have one, skip the lemon juice part of the recipe and boil the minced rind of the lemon (discarding the pulp) in a bit of sugar water for 1 minute and then set it aside. Mix it in with the vegetables in place of the lemon juice.
Chicken in a Pot with Lemon & Garlic
Adapted from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan
Juice of 1 lemon
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 large potatoes, sweet or Yukon gold, cut into 8 equal-sized pieces
2 medium sweet onions, sliced
8 carrots, trimmed, peeled and quartered
4 celery stalks, trimmed and quartered
4 whole garlic heads, cloves separated but not peeled
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 thyme sprigs
3 parsley sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs
1 chicken, about 4 pounds, whole or cut into 8 pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
About 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
About 3/4 cup hot water
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables and garlic in two batches (overcrowding the pan will take them even longer to cook and they won't brown evenly), and saute the vegetables until they are brown on all sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Spoon the vegetables into a Dutch oven or other oven-safe pot with a lid and stir in the herbs and lemon juice or preserved lemon peel, if you're using it.
Return the skillet to the heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken (whole or cut up) and brown it on all sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. It should take about 5-7 minutes per side. Add the chicken to the pot with the vegetables, taking care to nudge the vegetables up the sides of the pot and around the chicken. In a large measuring cup, mix together the remaining olive oil, chicken broth, and wine and pour it over the chicken and vegetables.
On a clean work surface, combined the flour and hot water, adding more flour or water as needed, to make a quick dough. Once the dough holds together and is somewhat smooth, twist it into a rope and press it around the rim of the pot. Press the lid down onto the dough and slide the pot into the oven for 1 hour.
Remove the lid from the pot with a screwdriver (it's not sexy, but it works like a charm) and take a moment to inhale. Now get going, people are hungry. If you used a whole chicken, you will have to do a little carving before you serve it. If you used a cut-up chicken, you can serve it straight from the pot.
Serve with plenty of crusty bread and sweet butter and eat it with people you love.