This week’s recipe was incredibly easy, but also incredibly good.
The simplest of ingredients – things that you’d likely have on hand – a chicken (!), carrots, onions, potatoes, some herbs (I only had rosemary fresh) and the secret ingredient… armagnac. Armagnac is a spirit very similar to cognac, brandy or calvados – each have their own subtle character, in this case, it’s a bit of sultry sweetness reminicent of prunes. Any of these would work here, with similar results. The calvados would add a hint of apple. But in this case, I decided that I should make the effort to find the armagnac. Dorie did warn us that it was expensive – but of course, I forgot that part until I saw the $41 price tag. Oh well – in for a penny…
The vegetables are cut up, and then tossed in a bit of oil on the stove over medium heat for a few moments (not to cook them, just to warm them),
and then the salt & pepper seasoned bird is nestled on top. Finally, the armagnac is poured in and heated just a little (this all smells divine) before the pot is covered tightly and placed in the oven to bake for about an hour or so.
My chicken was a little larger than the 3.5 pounds suggested, so I probably added about 15 minutes to the whole time.
Once the time is up, the chicken comes out. The only thing about this method of cooking, is that it doesn’t create a nice crisp skin. The up-side is that there’s no temptation to eat it!
Once the chicken is removed, what remains is some lovely sauce and vegetables. Dorie suggests adding water to this and then boiling. I felt like I had plenty without the water, so I just fished out the herb stems, seasoned and let it go at that. What I should have done, is placed all of the liquid in one of those handy cups that allows you to separate the fat from the juice that you’d like to keep.
I served this with the cauliflower gratin recipe from a couple of weeks ago – substituting a combination of cauliflower and broccoli.
This method produced some flavorful and juicy chicken, cooked perfectly. The subtle complexity added by the armagnac was fantastic! I could definitely see this as a go-to recipe for its simplicity and terrific results. I could also envision a bit of a different take – for one, I was sorry I didn’t have any prunes on hand, because I think they would have been lovely in the dish. But switching the armagac for calvados and throwing in some apples – maybe even changing out the white potatoes for sweet potatoes – and not forgetting the thyme… this was definitely a great method, and one we really enjoyed.