French Friday’s with Dorie: The Big Finish?
(or “How I spent my last 4 years, 7 months and 21 days”)
Four years, seven months and 21 days. That is how long it has been since I hit the ‘publish’ button on that very first French Friday’s with Dorie post to kick off one amazing cooking journey. The recipe was for Gougères , those pâte à choux cheese puffy things usually served by much fancier hosts than me. I had always wanted to try my hand at them but when push came to shove and dinner party anxiety would kick in my Gruyere puff serving fantasy would go down the virtual disposal. With this post, I realized that the group’s structure had pushed me to overcome what was my evidently needless intimidation. (It was a lesson that accompanied me throughout these past four years, seven months and 21 days.) So seduced was I by my success that I ate every last gougères that night and committed to myself that I would be one of the Doristas that would see this through to the very end.
And here we are! Four years, seven months and 21 days later, and almost done!
I say almost done because, well, I’m not quite done. As you could expect, four years, seven months and 21 days is a lot of time and life will happen. Life’s interruptions and other distraction punctuated my French Friday’s story, and I had to miss a few weeks here and there. I was waxing nostalgic this past week, and I sat down to compare the 300 recipes in this book against the list of all that I had completed . I was quite surprised to see how remarkably few recipes remain uncooked.
During June, unless life happens again, I will use up as much bandwidth as I can spare to share as many heretofore un-shared by me FFwD recipes as I possibly can. (Many were cooked along with the group but still yet not posted.) I have a few last Friday thoughts and memories to share, so please consider them my final tribute before we say goodbye. Well, not goodbye but au revoir .
And then I’ll be done with French Fridays. Sort of.
One thing I am not sorry to say adieu to is the pressure cooking (see what I did there?) in a group and posting about it every single week brings. Not to mention the time it takes from my limited time to pursue other cuisines. Ironically, and like what happens with many relationships that turn serious, the reason one becomes attracted often becomes the same reason one breaks up. I am no longer in love with the discipline of weekly posting. I treasure the many blessings being a Dorista has bestowed on me. I also hold the community of friends made among the very best things to happen to me…it is now simply time for me to move on. (Though not from you dear Doristas because Doristas are forever!) I just need to be single again and date around. I need to rediscover my cooking self and bring my blog back to the story telling and recipes I wish to share — and on the schedule I want to share them.
I do hope those of you I know from this project will all stick around. So you see I am at once sad and relieved it is over. Can you be two things at once? I’m sure the other 1500 cookbooks cluttering my bookcases and garage need some love too.
Chicken in a Pot – the Garlic and Lemon Version
For four years, seven months and 21 days we have been staring at the cover of Around My French Table featuring this delicious chicken in a pot and wondering when we’d get a crack at it. Weekly this succulent bird seductively nestled with perfectly positioned (styled!) vegetables, braising in a broth seasoned with preserved lemons and herbs has called out to be cooked. Quite wisely, our administrators cleverly left it for last — and in so doing elevated its prestige even further. Expectations ran high!
In a way Chicken in a Pot is the quintessential Dorie Greenspan recipe: take a traditional method, show how easily it can be adapted to whatever is at hand, and present it in a way that yields consistent results. The book is loaded with several versions of this dish but this Chicken in a Pot the Garlic and Lemon Version, by virtue of its being on the cover, is something special to us. This version calls for a visually dramatic sealing of the pot with a flour and water dough before putting it in the over. The dough hardens with the heat and prevents the steam (and flavors) from escaping. Of course, needing to use a screwdriver to pry the lid off the pot before serving is quite dramatic as well.
Don’t let the cover fool you. This is a braised chicken, not a roasted chicken and should be judged as such. This is not a bad thing as it means you will have delicious cooking juices to dip some tasty bread into while you eat it.
The original recipe can be found here.
Some may find it easier to make this chicken in pieces rather than whole. The braising may be more consistent as well. Roasting it whole of course makes for a better book cover if that is your intention. You will need to take it to the kitchen and carve it up to serve with the vegetables and juices at the table after your photographers capture it.
This is what you will need:
- 1?2 preserved lemon, rinsed well
- 1 cup water
- 1?4 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut into 8 same-sized pieces (you can use white potatoes, if you prefer)
- 16 small white onions, yellow onions, or shallots
- 8 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
- 4 celery stalks, trimmed, peeled, and quartered
- 4 garlic heads, cloves separated but not peeled
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 3 parsley sprigs
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 1 chicken, about 4 pounds, preferably organic, whole or cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1?2 cup dry white wine
- About 1 1?2 cups all-purpose flour
- About 3?4 cup hot water
This is how you make it:
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Slice the peel from the preserved lemon and cut it into small squares; discard the pulp. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, drop in the peel, and cook for 1 minute; drain and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables are brown on all sides. (If necessary, do this in 2 batches.) Spoon the vegetables into a 4 1/2- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other pot with a lid and stir in the herbs and the preserved lemon.
- Return the skillet to the heat, add another tablespoon of oil, and brown the chicken on all sides, seasoning it with salt and pepper as it cooks. Tuck the chicken into the casserole, surrounding it with the vegetables. Mix together the broth, wine, and the remaining olive oil and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
- Put 1 1?2 cups flour in a medium bowl and add enough hot water to make a malleable dough. Dust a work surface with a little flour, turn out the dough, and, working with your hands, roll the dough into a sausage. Place the dough on the rim of the pot -- if it breaks, just piece it together -- and press the lid onto the dough to seal the pot.
- Slide the pot into the oven and bake for 55 minutes. Now you have a choice -- you can break the seal in the kitchen or do it at the table, where it's bound to make a mess, but where everyone will have the pleasure of sharing that first fragrant whiff as you lift the lid with a flourish. Whether at the table or in the kitchen, the best tool to break the seal is the least attractive -- a screwdriver. Use the point of the screwdriver as a lever to separate the lid from the dough.
This Chicken in a Pot the Garlic and Lemon Version was the final assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “ Around My French Table” . We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers, or it is, in fact, not much of a recipe at all but rather a methode , I will either include it here (adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe. You should buy the book though.
It will change your life as it has mine.