Monday, February 16, 2009

Pot-roasted chicken

Pot-roasting enables you to cook a joint when you have a hob but not an oven. But because people like the technique, they pot-roast in the oven anyway - as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall does in this Guardian recipe.

If you follow his advice to the letter, you will need a very large pot. I cooked a 2kg chicken at the weekend, and I found that my largest, oval Le Creuset casserole was only just large enough. The lid was not a snug fit.

The second point worth noting before following this recipe is that a large Le Creuset such as mine takes a long time to warm through. After an hour at gas mark 4/180C, the cooking process is still at an early stage. So the timing Fearnley-Whittingstall gives may not be adequate.

The third point is that 10 minutes at the end may not be long enough to brown the skin - although some browning will have taken place inside the pot. In this recipe, from the River Cottage website, the technique is different: you uncover the dish 30 minutes before the end. Again, I think that his suggested overall cooking time may be inadequate.

I browned my chicken in a little oil and butter first, before throwing in bay, rosemary, onion, and whole garlic cloves.

The fourth point is that, once cooking really is underway, the steamy atmosphere of the pot will cook the chicken more efficiently than would the unmediated heat of the oven. It means that the chicken breast is at greater risk of drying out than it is when roasted conventionally.

It seems to me that if you want to cook your chicken in a pot, you might as well joint it first, add the breast portions just 25 minutes or so before the end, and call it a stew.

No comments: