Chicken in a Pot –
the Garlic and Lemon Version

 French Friday’s with Dorie: The Big Finish?

(or “How I spent my last 4 years, 7 months and 21 days”)

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french fridays with dorie art by rachel alvarez-thumb-330x267-1352

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.

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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

greenspanfrenchtablecover1-thumb-200x260-1173For 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.


Chicken in a Pot Dorie Greenspan-2

Chicken in a Pot – the Garlic and Lemon Version

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:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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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.

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. It’s been an amazing journey, Trevor! And hard to believe so much time has gone by. It’s hard for me to imagine you being intimidated by cooking anything.

    Hope to see you again, soon! xoxoxo

    • I was lying Susan. 🙂 The last time I had made pâte à choux was about 25 years ago when I had to make 100 perfect creme puffs to make into twin croquembouches for a party. It scarred me. It took FFwD to bring us back together.

  2. Oh the memories! I fondly remember making Dorie’s Burritos Madeline … The chimichamgas nicoise, and who could forget those glorious Nachos a la Marseille??? I’ll never forget my Dorista buddies Esperanza, Cookie, and Pancho. And you’re right – this is a great example of a braised chicken, often overlooked in favor of a roast. Lovely job!!!

  3. Yes, you can absolutely be both things at once. I find myself similarly conflicted. I don’t want it to end, but I also have shelves full of cookbooks which have been gathering dust these past 4 years. I love cooking as a group and comparing notes and thoughts, but I also look forward to having more flexibility to plan my menus.

  4. Ah, the dilemma – love the one you are with or move on to something new…

    Here is the point in time where we must graciously accept that it is time to part ways and not act the part of a clingy, desperate girlfriend. (Because nobody likes clingy…or desperate)

    It’s almost over.
    Doristas are foverer.
    Let’s eat some new food.


  5. Doristas are forever. Amen to that. And of course I’ll look forward to seeing a new Trevor post pop up in my feed reader. I’m a subscriber and don’t intend to go anywhere. It’s been such a pleasure cooking alongside you these past few years. Can’t wait to see where your “singledom” takes you 😉

  6. What a beauty!!! And look how far we’ve come since that gougeres post! So happy this cooking adventure caused our lives to cross—you are an inspiration. xo

  7. The weekly pressures of posting are now greater for me because my Friday post is now wide open…. I never cooked French food before this group and I have to say I am tired of Thyme. Is there a recipe that doesn’t have it? Time for a little French food break for me. I hope you continue posting more than just the Dorie posts your wit is wonderful and I will miss it. Remember you are the Dave Sedaris of food blogging. I will never EVER forget your valentine’s date post or your horrible dinner guest post!!!

    • I think I want to start a new blog titled “Running out of Thyme”. Wanna help me with that? lol. I FORGOT about my horrible dinner guest post! I’ll have to read that one again. I think now that I don’t have the weekly pressure I can get back telling more of those stories. I have about 8 more V-day stories to share.

  8. I love the way you described the journey and your feelings about it and about moving on. I look forward to more food and stories from you, too!

  9. TheKitchenLioness says:

    Trevor, always such a pleasure to look at your amazing photography! And this post is no exception – so elegant and so very fitting for our very last recipe!
    Looking forward to your upcoming posts,

  10. What a beautiful post, and I agree with Liz, look how far we have come. Traveling to Seattle for the IFBC was
    such a treat for me, I enjoyed meeting you and all the other Doristas. I feel that I have really accomplished
    something by finishing this beautiful cookbook by Dorie, and I will definitely follow all your adventures in the
    future. It has been a pleasure knowing you, and I have got your number…..

  11. Mary Hirsch says:

    Well said, Trevor and, as always, beautifully written. This has been a push me/pull me week with my emotions running amuck. You aready know what this group and everyone in it has meant to me and for me. I won’t belabor those facts. I enjoy your creativity and imagination and orginal thinking. However, I still am trying to get my arms around that Valentine’s Day Post of yours. I was so pleased to read Laurie’s comments on Facebook that you and she have some small adventures planned for the summer and a larger one this fall. What a nice surprise to hear on this nostalgic day. The only thing that has marred this wonderful 4+ year experience with FFWD was my backing out on you this winter. I will always feel badly about that. But as I said then and what you know for sure is that I will be supportive of your and Laurie’s projects for the future and a willing participant.

    • Mary, I will never understand your obsession with that post. What is there not to understand? 🙂 At any rate I’m hoping to do more of those posts now that the weekly pressure is off. I could never sustain that type of writing on a weekly basis. I’m excited about what the future brings for FFwD as well. However, without administrators to keep things going it will necessarily be a bit different of a place. Home nonetheless.

  12. I totally understand being both sad and relieved this project is over. I too am looking forward to not having a post “due” each Friday, so I can focus on refocusing. I look forward to seeing your “catch-ups” in the next few weeks, and will certainly continue to check back to read about your new adventures. As always, your photos are stunning!

    • Focus on refocusing indeed. We all need to think about what we are going to BE now. Right? Thank you so much for appreciating my photography. My adventure here at FFwD was to get better at it as well as the cooking.

  13. It’s been fun to travel this road with you on the bus, Trevor. Has it really been 4 years, 7 months and 21 days? I share your sentiments about it being time to move on to new adventures. That doesn’t change what an incredible community we’ve all built together for our weekly Friday get-togethers. I can’t wait to see what you do next. I always enjoy your wit and style, on Fridays or any other day. Keep in touch!

    • Thank you my dear. It really has been 4 years, 7 months and 21 days! Communities are not dissolved so easily so I hope we will continue to think of ourselves as one.

  14. What you said about the pressure is exactly why I haven’t joined a cooking or baking group. I don’t want to let people down but some day/weeks I’m just flat out without a minute to spare.

    That said, I would have loved making this gorgeous chicken in a pot. My grandmother used to make this when I was little and it was a favorite.

  15. Hee hee, wanting to date around a bit, eh? It’s true, though, about not having a lot of bandwidth to explore, particularly if you’re someone who really jumps in to a new project to the exclusion of many other things (I’m one of those). Lovely post, Trevor, and beautiful photos, as always!

  16. Trevor, you are right – it is a braised chicken, but delicious all the same. I get what you mean about the pressure cooking – I have felt the heat of keeping up myself, especially when life gets busy. It has been wonderful cooking with you, and I do indeed hope that we continue to be cooking buds.

  17. As always, you captured and communicated so beautifully what so many of us are experiencing. I am not sure any of us realized what a commitment this adventure would be- time wise that is. But somehow while it does not make sense on paper (try explaining to co-workers why you spend more time leaving comments to “strangers” that doing the actual cooking – LOL) it has been a project of the heart. And one that has unexpected returned much more than we have given. That said, it has been far too long since I have seriously perused my many jilted cookbooks that do not bear the name Greenspan. And I know that would not make Dorie happy either 🙂 I look forward to the future in many ways, but for now I have to finish those make-ups LOL. PS – also “as always”, your pictures are stunning.

  18. It’s been wonderful, hasn’t it? You are the leading wit of our little Dorista coterie. I can’t imagine what the last four-and-a-half years of blogging would have been like without all of you. This chicken was superb, and a wonderful way to cap things off. I’ll be doing catch ups slowly, for the twenty or so recipes I’m behind.

  19. It has been a wonderful journey, and I’m delighted to have made it with you, Trevor! I agree, it is time to move on, while I have mixed feelings, I too would like to “date around a bit”!! LOL! This group has been quite special. I know that many of us will still visit, due to our participation with TWD, and others will move on. I look forward to new posts from all the group, even though they are not French Friday related!
    Beautiful post, Trevor! And as always gorgeous photos!
    Tricia, said it perfectly…A project of the heart!

  20. I always enjoy reading your posts, Trevor. This has been a great relationship and like all true relationships, there have been ups and downs, disappointments and hurt feelings. And now that we’re at the end its the old ‘its not you its me; I need something different’. Your photos are great and I will definitely keep up with your blogging future but I will miss our French Fridays and remember them fondly:) Take care!