This may be my only other Dorie recipe for the month since several of the recipes are baked goods. This chicken dish is a winner. D declared it the best Dorie recipe so far and I loved the ease with which it could be made: an oven roasted whole chicken, surrounded by three root vegetables and some aromatics, and flavored with spirits – in this case with Cognac not the Armagnac called for in the recipe. You may want to skip my rant about looking for Armagnac below (and there is a link to a site with the recipe for readers who hang in with me).
Those of you who live in parts of the country with odd liquor laws, including places where the state is in charge of liquor sales, will share my pain. North Carolina, which I love dearly for its beautiful landscapes, its warm weather, its friendly people and most of all because it has become home to me, is one of these places. You can’t buy liquor on Sundays. Ok I sort of get that, this is the Bible belt and all. And folks, you can plan ahead. You must buy liquor at state-run, county Alcohol Board of Control operated, sales sites (hence the ABC name). Hum, ok. Well I guess someone maybe should keep an eye on where liquor stores operate, the kind of advertising they use, and make sure some of the sales are going to alcohol prevention and treatment programs, right? But isn’t that what my alcohol sales taxes are paying for? Isn’t that what state laws and county ordinances are there to control? Oh, and the final indignity, you can pretty much only buy what the state deems “sellable” and “appropriate,” despite what market might exist for other liquors. So that means you can find one brand of Calvados (however it took me searching three ABC stores to find one that sells it), one kind of Pisco, one kind of Maraschino, one kind of elderflower liquor (that one surprised me – but I guess its become a popular ingredient of late, you get my drift). Rye has also become more popular, so I can now find 3 types of rye – none of which are made by small batch rye producers in neighboring states. Forget trying to find interesting liquors from most European countries, including the somewhat pricier Armagnac. Though of course you can find about 40 kinds of vodka, domestic and imported. A lot of it makes no sense. I’ve had offers from friends and even strangers to pick up liquors for me in other states, and I’m still holding on to a few things I picked up in Wisconsin on my last driving trip. The bottom line is that on my next trip to D.C. I need to stock up on a few things and hand my tax money over to them. Rant done. You can now continue to the part where I talk about food.
The Cognac, onions and herbs gave the cooking chicken a wonderful scent, very homey and comforting. And mouth watering. The cooked chicken came out juicy, with hints of heat from the white pepper. The juices from the chicken combined perfectly with the Cognac, rosemary, thyme and onion to form a balanced sauce that enhanced the flavors of the meat and roasted vegetables. As always, I made a few adjustments to the ingredients which required some adjustments to the recipe. Notes are below.
- No trussing. Trussing will help to keep the chicken in one piece as you remove it from the pot for serving. With just the two of us eating it, we cut apart the chicken in the pot and served it from there.
- Onion, onions, onions…I cut back to one very large onion. To me, it was the perfect amount.
- No potatoes. I used diakon radish instead, one of my favorite potato substitutes. Diakon has many colors and forms, but I used the classic long white version, about half of one, peeled and cut lengthwise and then in about 10 half moons.
- Diakon is more watery than potatoes. After 45 minutes of cooking, I removed the lid of the pot and continued to cook the chicken at 450 for 15 minutes to allow some of the liquid in the pot to evaporate. This also allowed the chicken to brown, which with all the extra water/steam it would not have done otherwise.
- No additional water. The diakon added enough extra moisture for the dish. Rather than remove the chicken and vegetables, and then the visible fat, add some water and then reduce the watered down sauce, I simply left the reduced jus from the baking, including the fat, as the final sauce. It was quite good; some of the fat is absorbed by the diakon and the remainder for us is a great part of the flavor of the dish.
French Fridays with Dorie members are not printing the recipes but you can find M. Jacques’ Armagnac Chicken in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette along with a recipe for Tomatoes Provencal. You can see how the rest of the Doristas did with this dish by heading over to the French Fridays page.