Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Proper Sunday Dinner

Came home with a great haul from the farmers market this morning - great beans, corn, peaches, and a whole host of other delicious things. We couldn't wait to dig into the corn and had it with a quick lunch. Dinner, however, was a more meditated affair. Broke out a whole broiler chicken from a previous trip to the farmer's market and set our with my first braising attempt. While I don't yet have a cast iron casserole (it's been on my wish list for some time now), my hand-me-down glass casserole dish held up well. Mashed potatoes and fresh market green beans rounded out the meal (we do love potatoes;)

Braised Chicken

1 large free-range chicken, about 2 kilos (4 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fine sea salt, freshly ground pepper
1 large head garlic
1 organic lemon, cut in four quarters
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Rub the skin of the chicken with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt and pepper on all sides, and place it, breasts-side up, in a clay pot or cast-iron cocotte large enough to accommodate it. Peel the outer layers off the head of garlic to separate the individual cloves -- don't peel the cloves themselves. Arrange the cloves, lemon, and herbs around the chicken.

Put the lid on, slip the pot in the cold (not preheated) oven, and turn the oven on to 150°C (300°F). Bake for three hours, or until cooked through (if you have a meat thermometer, insert it in the inner part of a thigh: the chicken is done when the thermometer registers 82°C / 180°F), basting the chicken with its own juices every 45 minutes or so.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, carve the different serving parts, and transfer to a warm serving dish (pour very hot water from the kettle into it and let stand as you cut the chicken). Transfer the juices, herbs, and cloves to a gravy boat, and serve immediately.

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