My Secret Recipe Club partner for this month was Margaret of Tea and Scones. At first I was really tempted to try one of the fantastic bread recipes she has on her blog, but then I spotted this super tasty recipe for chicken roasted with lots of veggies and a sauce made of Armagnac. It turns out that Armagnac is a type of brandy, and luckily I had just exactly the right amount of brandy in my cupboard, even if it wasn't exactly the right kind (coincidentally, just like Margaret when she made this recipe!). Margaret's tips on this recipe were invaluable - she thought the breast was a bit bland, so I went with my usual technique of rubbing salt under the chicken skin before baking. This always makes for really flavorful chicken, although it's sort of gross (but worth it!). My chicken also needed some extra time to brown up, like Margaret's.
The end result was amazingly delicious. The vegetables were perfectly cooked: super creamy fingerlings, carrots from our CSA, and soft melted onions. The chicken was moist and flavorful; I think this cooking method which essentially steams the chicken keeps it from drying out.And finally, the sauce was totally divine and perfect for dipping veggies and chicken in. The only thing this meal could have used was some crusty bread - I will definitely keep that in mind for next time! Thank you Margaret!
I also want to send out a huge thank you to Biz of My Bizzy Kitchen - I won an awesome portable lightbox in a giveaway on her blog for taking dinner photos after dark...pretty much a necessity except in the middle of summer! I have been wanting one of these for a while, and it is totally awesome! I'm still learning how best to use it, but I definitely think it makes those nighttime photos way better!
M. Jacques' (Brandy) Chicken (adapted from Dorie Greenspan, via Tea and Scones)
8 fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
5 small carrots, peeled and thickly sliced on the diagonal
Salt and pepper
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of oregano
1 bay leaf
1 chicken, about 3-1/2 pounds, patted dry
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup water
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Find a large Dutch oven or casserole dish that's large enough to hold the chicken and the veggies.
2. Put the Dutch oven over medium heat and pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When it's warm, add the potatoes, onions, and carrots all together. Stir for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are coated in oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the herbs. Turn heat down to low.
3. Prep the chicken. Using your fingers, separate the skin from the meat of the breast and drumsticks. Rub a teaspoon or so of salt into the meat (under the skin). Then sprinkle a bit more salt and a generous amount of pepper all over the bird and rub into the skin gently. Working with the chicken breast-side-up, tuck the wings under the bird and tie the legs together with chicken twine.
4. Wash your hands carefully, and then give the pot of veggies a good stir. Push them towards the sides of the pot, leaving some space in the middle. Plop in the chicken, breast side up. Wash your hands again.
5. Pour the brandy over the chicken and let it heat up for a minute or so over medium heat. Then cover the pot with either a tight-fitting lid or a double layer of aluminum foil.
6. Place the pot in the pre-heated oven and let the chicken roast undisturbed for one hour.
7. Carefully remove the lid - there will be lots of steam! Take a look at the chicken - if it needs to brown a bit more, return it to the oven for 15 minutes or so. When the chicken is cooked through, transfer the Dutch oven to the stovetop.
6. Carefully transfer the chicken to a serving platter and cover with foil. Using a spoon, skim the fat off the cooking liquid and discard. Pick out the bay leaf and discard it as well. Turn the heat to medium and gently stir the vegetables. Add the water, stirring to blend it with the pan juices. Simmer about minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste for salt and pepper.
7. Serve the chicken with the vegetables and sauce.