Weather in Michigan is beginning to turn crisp, and I cannot wait for Fall! I’m glad that I can make one-pot dishes like this one without overheating the house from the oven. The smell of the chicken roasting, combined with the onions and bacon is deeply satisfying. The flavors of the onions and bacon combine really well and absorb into the chicken and potatoes for a hearty, moist, and flavorful meal to share with family and friends this Fall. Enjoy!
Poulet en Cocotte Bonne Femme (Casserole-roasted Chicken with Bacon, Onions, and Potatoes)
Credit: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle
A ½-lb. chunk of bacon
A fireproof casserole for cooking the chicken (I used my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with great success)
1 tablespoon butter
A 3-lb. ready-to-cook roasting chicken, trussed and buttered (Here is how to truss properly. I had to improvise because I didn’t have a big needle.)
15 to 25 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter (Pearl onions work well)
1 to 1 ½ lbs. boiling potatoes or small new potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon salt
A medium herb bouquet: 4 Parsley sprigs, ½ bay leaf, and 1/4teaspoon thyme tied in washed cheesecloth
A bulb baster
A tight-fitting cover for the casserole
1. Remove the rind and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangular strips ½ inch wide and 1 ½ inches long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water, and dry. In the casserole, sauté the bacon for 2 to 3 minutes in butter until very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish, leaving the fat in the casserole.
2. Brown the chicken in the hot fat. Remove it to a side dish and pour the fat out of the casserole.
3. Drop the onions in a pot of boiling, salted water and boil slowly for 5 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 325°F.
5. Peel the potatoes and trim them into uniform ovals about 2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Drain immediately.
6. Heat the 3 tablespoons butter in the casserole until it is foaming. Add the drained potatoes and roll them around over moderate heat for 2 minutes to evaporate their moisture; this will prevent them from sticking to the casserole. Spread them aside, salt the chicken, and place it breast-side-up in the casserole. Place the bacon and onions over the potatoes, and the herb bouquet.
7. Baste all ingredients with the butter in the casserole, lay the aluminum foil over the chicken, and cover the casserole.
8. Heat the casserole on top of the stove until the contents are sizzling, then place in the middle rack of the preheated oven and roast for 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is done. (My chicken was 4 lbs. and it was perfectly done after 1 hour and 45 minutes.) Baste once or twice with the butter and juices in the pan. No sauce is necessary.