French Chicken In A Pot


French Chicken refers to the cooking method, not some crazy requirement to obtain a chicken from France.  Although I’m rather amused by the idea of a yard full of free range chickens squawking Le Cluck, Le Cluck.  And there was that episode of Iron Chef America that did use Blue Footed Chickens which are normally only found in France, if I remember correctly.  So maybe the idea of finding beret wearing, parlez vous francaising chickens in your grocery store isn’t that far fetched after all.

Regardless of the nationality of your poultry, this recipe comes from the folks at Cook’s Illustrated who say “Taking cues from a French technique for cooking chicken in a covered pot, we forgo crispy skin for succulent meat and unforgettable flavor.

As much as I do love crisp roasted chicken skin, this sounds good to me.

The science of this recipe focuses on the cooking method.  According to CI “French Chicken in a Pot shares some similarities with braised chicken – both are cooked in covered pots in low temperature ovens to yield tender, flavorful meat.  Unlike braising however, where lots of liquid is added to the pot, our chicken is placed in a dry pot and left to cook in nothing more than the essence of its own juice.  In a dry pot with no added liquid, juices that come out of the chicken go right back into it, undiluted by other flavors.  The wet environment of the braise creates an ongoing exchange between the flavors of the chicken as well as other ingredients, such as wine, broth, and vegetables.”

And it’s completely true.  I’ve made this twice now and each time I’ve been blown away by the moistness of the meat and the flavor of the juices.  I do still miss the crispy skin but until someone figures a way to engineer it, I’ll just have to let the Colonel handle that detail for me.

French Chicken In A Pot

Cook’s Illustrated

BAH Note:  If you don’t have a fat separator, do what I do.  Pour the juice into a two cup liquid measuring cup.  Allow it to settle for about 5 minutes.  Then carefully skim off as much grease as possible from the top.  If you’re cooking this as a make ahead meal, just cover the measuring cup with foil or plastic and put it in the refrigerator.  As it cools, the fat will form a solid layer which can easily be removed before you reheat the jus.

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), giblets removed and discarded
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small celery stalk, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Place an oven rack in the lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking.  Add chicken (breast side down) and place onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary (if using) around chicken.  Cook chicken for about 5 minutes or until the breast is lightly browned.  Carefully flip the chicken breast side up and cook 6 to 8 minutes until the chicken and vegetables have browned.

Remove the pot from heat, cover with a large sheet of aluminum foil, and cover tightly with lid.  Transfer to oven and cook approximately 80 to 110 minutes or until instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the breast and 175 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh.

Transfer the chicken to cutting board, tent with foil, and rest for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from the pot through a fine mesh strainer into a fat separator.  Be sure to press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard the solids and you should have somewhere around 3/4 cup juices.  Let the liquid settle for 5 minutes, then pour into a saucepan set over low heat.  Add any accumulated chicken juices from cutting board to pan, stir in lemon juice, and taste for seasoning.

Carve chicken and serve with jus.

{Printable Recipe}

18 thoughts on “French Chicken In A Pot

    1. Elizabeth, delicious is exactly what this is. The lack of extra liquid really concentrates the flavor of the chicken in the juices.

      Once you’ve recovered from this week’s poultry overload, definitely give French Chicken In A Pot a try.

  1. I love chicken but am now freaked out by the concept of chicken skin…eating skin seems wrong…and yet, I have no trouble consuming the chickeny flesh, so what kind of weirdo am I?

    1. TKW, is this a new paranoia of yours? If the skin is crispy, I absolutely must have some. Otherwise, I can do without.

      This method most definitely does not result in crispy skin. But it’s easy enough to scrape the skin away and get to that succulent meat. Um, that sounded kinda dirty didn’t it?

  2. I have a confession to make–I love to cook chicken in a pot. Except instead of using a dutch oven we use a slow cooker (aka crock pot, but since williams sonoma is trying to make the crock pot upscale by calling it a slow cooker, I will too!).

    We have a slow cooker with a timer, so before going to work in the morning we will put the chicken, rubbed with some olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, in, along with some onion, carrots, potatoes, and set the timer for 8 hours on low. We come home to a delicious slow cooked chicken that has meat very similar to what is described here. And as a bonus, we save the juices in the pot to serve as the basis of stock, which we also make in the crockpot, overnight.

    1. Beth, the problem I have with my crock pot is that the lid doesn’t fit securely in the crock. It gaps. Does yours do that or do I just have a poorly designed crock pot? I could probably get around this problem by using a piece of foil to seal up the gap and keep those glorious juices.

      (I think I need to upgrade to a crock pot with a timer…hello, Mistah, you reading this????)

      Is your stock recipe up on your blog?

  3. mine doesn’t have a gap, and it has a timer that you set, which I think is key. I think I got it as a shower gift–making it–GASP–4 years old!

    I don’t have the chicken recipe or the stock recipe online, but thanks for the idea for a post! 😉

    1. Beth, I’m curious. Does your crock pot let you program start and end time or just cooking time overall?

      If you decide to post your crock pot stock recipe, let me know. I’d love to try it out.

  4. I may have to try this. I currently have two chickens in suspended animation downstairs. this really sounds good.

    PS I made the rum cake for the Thanksgiving dinner. It is fabulous and not too rummy even for my grandmother who pronounced it Professional looking. Is ther anywhere I can send you a picture? Yes, I did take one! LOL


    1. Emily, this is an easy method. Minimal effort and maximum flavor.

      Would love to see that cake. Do you have an account with any online photo sites like Flickr, Snapfish, or Picassa? I personally love Flickr and I think they have a free account option.

  5. let me see if i can hook this up. when I got to my grandmother’s and was taking the picture she gave me the strangest look. I said to her, “What? Doesn’t everyone take pictures of their food?

    Didn’t take it before I left home and didn’t take the light box with me so will be a little yellow incandescentish.

    Let me see if I can hook up this Flickr thing for us

  6. OK, so I am a rookie, and a dumb blonde at that. I now have a Flickr thingie and the picture is tagged as FOOD. How do I fix it so YOU can see it?

    Spouse also says I have no patience. He could be right

    1. All you have to do is copy/paste the url (web address from your browser) of the picture into a comment or email. Or you can post your Flickr member name. 

      There’s a link on the blogroll to my Flickr (I think) or you can search for pmf1852 in Flickr.

  7. done and did! I had them send it to you or fix it so you can see my photostream ( why does that sound like and incontinence problem?) they said it got sent let me know if it gets to you please. I am so proud!. Having Mommy say it looks good is a compliment in itself!

  8. I used a humongous, 7 1/2 lb chicken, to baptize my brand new 6 1/2 qt enameled cast iron
    dutch oven. I brined the bird first, for about two hours, and removed it from the pot after browning on all sides, so that I could caramelize the veggies, completely cooking off all their moisture. I used 40 cloves of peeled garlic, too! I cooked the bird for two hours, then, after removing it to a cutting board to rest, I added 1/2 cup of white wine to the jus and reduced it by half.

    It was spectacular!

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