Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dutch Oven Chicken

Delicious! That's all the description that this dish needs. Normally I make this dinner using a whole chicken when I can find one on sale, but this week I found thighs and a few breasts on sale. I'm learning that really any variation of chicken works from chicken pieces to a whole chicken. It's the cheapest and most flavorful way to get some cooked chicken. Total honesty here too, I don't usually spend the extra money on organic food since I can't always justify the extra cost for the unquantified benefits. However, for this dish, I do wait for the free range organic chickens to go on sale because I've made it enough to know that in this case it makes the flavor ridiculously better. The meat also comes out noticeably softer, juicier, and just falls off the bone.  In a pinch, I use the regular Trader Joe's whole chicken which works almost as well.  But really, use anything you can get your hands on, it'll be tasty.

Joe and I have a nice chicken dinner the first night with this.  I take all of the leftover chicken off the bones to use in soup and enchiladas which I'll post later.  Then I put the leftover gravy, chicken skin and bones into a crockpot with onion, carrots, celery and salt for flavor and fill it up with water.  I turn that on low for the night and wake up to some awesome broth to use in my soup.  Just strain it and freeze it.  Use it when you need it! Really this is the dish that keeps on giving.

Dutch Oven Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken or chicken pieces (4 to 5 lbs)
2 teaspoons of seasoning of your choice.  I usually just use salt, but tonight I used the Wildtree lemon rosemary mix for something different.  Up to you!
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4-6 whole cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary (optional)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon


Preheat the oven to 250˚ and move the a rack to the bottom of the oven.  Place the dutch oven on the stove top and turn the burner on to medium.  Pat the chicken down with a paper towel.  Rub the seasoning into and under the skin of the chicken.  Melt the butter.  Once it is smoking slightly, add the chicken, breast-side down.  Sprinkle the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, bay leaves and rosemary around and on the chicken.  Sauté for 5 minutes on the breast side and flip.  Cook for another 5 minutes.  Turn off the burner.  Cover the dutch oven with aluminum foil and then the top.  Place on the bottom rack of the oven.  If you are cooking chicken pieces, bake for 60 minutes.  If you're making a whole chicken, bake for 80 minutes.  

Remove from the oven and place the chicken on a tray for carving.  Strain the drippings into a sauce pan.  Add the lemon juice and simmer.  Use as gravy over the chicken.  

One final note, we love to use the softened garlic and onion as a spread on fresh bread.  

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