We made the most delicious winter meal from Mindy Fox’s new cookbook, “A Bird in the Oven And then Some.” I can’t rave enough about the book, which is organized in a unique way: roast chicken recipes (and side dishes that go along with them) up front, then ideas for leftovers, like soups and salads, in the back. It’s genius. And from what I can tell so far, the recipes are incredible. This one, Pot Roasted Chicken with Slab Bacon, Celery Root and Rosemary, is on the cover, and it’s a real winner.
Best part? You get to cook with fire. Inside.
All you really need, besides chicken, is a slab of bacon and a hunk of celery root.
The recipe, after the jump.
I thought we were going to be five for dinner, so I wanted to double the recipe. I thought that would be a little difficult, since I only have a 7-quart Dutch oven. No way are two chickens going to fit in there. Especially if I have to also fit several of handfuls of bacon and celery root, too.
But then I remembered an old pot I had in the basement — bought before I had the money or the inclination to buy All Clad and other such fancy cooking supplies.
Sometimes, it turns out, the simple stuff is best. The pot is one of those old turkey roasters. It’s aluminum with porcelain over it.
This is going to work out just great.
Now Mindy suggested salting the chicken generously, but I prefer to brine. And even though there’s bacon in the sauce — which might interfere with the saltiness of the juices as they combine to make the sauce — I was willing to take the risk.
I don’t usually tie my chicken either, but since Mindy suggested it, I was dutiful.
After you saute the bacon and celery root, you remove it from the pan, and then do the oddest thing. You sear the whole chicken in the pot, breast side down. Yes, like a roast or a steak.
Now I was too shaken up by this new method to remember to take photos. I know I can’t blame it on cocktails, because I made a point to remain completely sober for the next portion of the recipe.
After you sear the chicken, breast side down, you turn it over and cook it for a moment, then add brandy (or Calvados, if you’ve got it.) You use a long kitchen match and — poof!
It’s really fun. But be sure to have the lid of the pot nearby in case something goes wrong.
When you’re done flaming, you add some water to the pot, put the celery root and bacon back in, then sprinkle the chickens with rosemary and juniper berries:
I added a little rosemary in with the celery root for good measure.
Then you cover with foil and roast. For just one hour. At this time, you may commence cocktailing.
We ended up being just three for dinner — Boo was over, but the roads were too icy for Sondra and Leigh to make the trip. We went for our new favorite drink: The Bone.
Now I also have found when I roast chicken — not in a pot — it takes longer than an hour. But I think the combination of searing the chicken first and then covering the pot — first with foil, then the lid — makes the cooking time less. We let the chicken rest for 15 minutes on in the pot, then 5 more minutes on a cutting board, as Mindy suggested. It was perfect.
We thought it best served in bowls.
Pot-Roasted Chicken with Slab Bacon, Celery Root and Rosemary
by Mindy Fox in “A Bird in the Oven and then Some” (Kyle Books)
1 (4-pound) chicken
5 slices slab or thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds celery root, peeled and cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks
Flakey coarse sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Calvados
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon whole juniper berries, crushed and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 with the rack in the middle. Pull of excess fat around the cavities of the chicken and discard, then rinse the chicken and pat dry very well, inside and out. Tie together the legs.
Heat a 5 1/2- to 7-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it releases some fat and begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the celery root and cook, stirring, until just lightly golden, about 5 minutes more. Remove the bacon and celery root from the pot, leaving the pot on medium heat.
Season the chicken generously on all sides with salt and pepper (about 1 tablespoon coarse slat), then put the chicken, breast-side down, into the pot; reuce the heat to medium-low and cook, undistrubed, until the breast is lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
Turn the chicken breast-side up, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for 1 minute. Add the Calvados and let it come to a boil, then carefully ignite with a kitchen match, keeping the lid of the pot nearby to extinguish the flames, if necessary. When the flames die out, add the water to the pot. Return the bacon and celery root to the pot and sprinkle the top of the bird with the rosemary and juniper. Seal the pot with foil, then fit the lid on well.
Roast the bird in the oven for 1 hour, then remove the pot, uncover and let the bird rest for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, let rest for 5 minutes, then carve and serve with the celery root, bacon, pan juices and coarse salt for passing around the table.
One year before: Back at Barcel with Joe and Alex.
Two years before: Skirt Steak on Super Bowl Sunday.
Three years before: Fat Tuesday Fastnauchts
Four years before: Gee, it’s Good to Be Back Home Again.
Five years before: Chef’s Dish: Rafael Palomino at Paifico.