Gourmet (March 2008)
We've roasted dozens of chickens but have little experience butchering whole ones. So attempting to "French-style" cut a whole chicken was terribly educational. Being so hands-on with meat is intimidating -- but also sort of thrilling. It's fascinating to find the various pieces, and learn how and where they can be separated.
With little idea of where to begin, we consulted both How to Cook Everything and Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Both include instructions on cutting up a whole chicken, but both are somewhat vague in their descriptions (or seemed vague to this chicken-cutting novice).
The result of our cutting up the chicken "French style" was a bit mixed. Perhaps our knives were not sharp enough, or we didn't quite apply enough force. Still, the chicken came apart.
Cutting up the chicken was by far the most difficult part of this recipe. The rest is simplicity and the results are outstanding -- light, creamy and delicious. The combination of leeks, carrots and shallots, and the late addition of the potatoes and parsley makes for a beautiful dish that we are sure revisit soon.
Photos and details of the recipe from Gourmet follow:
Chicken in Riesling
Gourmet (March 2008)
Active Time: 30 min
Start to Finish: 1 hr
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 lb), backbone discarded and chicken cut French style into 8 pieces (see cooks’ note, below)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (2 cups)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
4 medium carrots, halved diagonally
1 cup dry white wine (preferably Alsatian Riesling)
1 1/2 lb small (2-inch) red potatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
Fresh lemon juice to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a rounded 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a wide 3 1/2- to 5-quart heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken in 2 batches, turning once, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a plate. Meanwhile, wash leeks and pat dry. Pour off fat from pot, then cook leeks, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken, skin sides up, with any juices from plate, carrots, and wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover pot and braise chicken in oven until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
While chicken braises, peel potatoes, then generously cover with cold water in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to saucepan. Add parsley and shake to coat. Stir crème fraîche into chicken mixture and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then add potatoes.
Cooks’ note: A chicken cut French style yields 2 breast halves with wings attached, halved crosswise for a total of 4 breast pieces, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs. If you don’t want to cut up a whole chicken, you can use 3 pounds chicken parts.