Chicken in a Pot, Smashed Potatoes, Citrus Salad

My in-laws visited on Saturday to install a closet organizer they’d bought for us (thanks, Wally and Hilda!) and I wanted to cook a nice lunch for them. We cleaned out some cabinets a week ago and I saw my two Le Creuset Dutch Ovens that had migrated to the back of the cabinet. The large one was a gift from my wife and it’s a bit spendy, but whenever I cook in it, I love the results. I resolved to find some more uses for it.

A few weeks ago, the America’s Test Kitchen tv show (ATK) had an episode where they made a whole chicken and French Onion Soup, both in a Le Creuset Dutch Oven. The chicken looked so moist and juicy, I had to try it. Don’t be put off by cooking a whole chicken. I find them to be cheaper and fresher than the cut up chicken parts. They’re easy to cook and easy to carve. I like the organic whole chickens from Trader Joes.

Following the ATK technique, I started with a whole chicken, rinsed it, discarded the neck and giblets, trimmed some of the skin and fat from around the cavity, and seasoned it with salt and pepper. I preheated the oven to 250 degrees and put the Dutch Oven on medium heat. If you don’t have a Dutch Oven, use the heaviest shallow pot you have (with a lid) that can go in the oven. When the pan was hot, I added 1 Tbsp of olive oil and browned the chicken, breasts down, for 5 minutes. As soon as the chicken was in the pot, I added 1 small, chopped onion, 1 chopped rib of celery, 6 whole cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf and 1/4 tsp of dried rosemary. They used 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, but I forgot to go outside for the rosemary and didn’t want to burn the chicken. The ATK research showed that fewer vegetables made for a less watery chicken.

After 5 minutes, I flipped the chicken to the back and browned it for 8 more minutes. When that was done, I was supposed to cover the Dutch Oven with a sheet of foil to trap even more moisture in, but I forgot, so I just put the lid on and put it into the 250 degree oven. Here’s the chicken after browning…

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Some of the skin stuck to the Dutch Oven and I was concerned about the breasts losing moisture, but my fears were unfounded. The chicken was supposed to cook for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes, or until breast meat is 160 to 165 degrees or dark meat is 170 to 175 degrees.

While it was cooking, I make the salad and smashed potatoes. Dr. Steve brought a pummelo to the Superbowl party, but we used it for sticking our leftover toothpicks into after devouring his cantaloupe balls wrapped in prosciutto. We bought one to try at home. A pummelo is a relative of the grapefruit. Its skin/pith is a lot thicker, its flesh is a lot denser, and it’s not as tart as a grapefruit. Here’s it compared to a medium orange…

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Here you can see how thick the skin is, as well as the color of the flesh…

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Mad knife skillz…

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I made our standard salad (greens, cucumber, scallions, tomato) with the addition of citrus segments and a citrus dressing. Citrus segments ready for the salad…

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and the completed salad…

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For the dressing I used 1/2 cup of citrus juice (about 2 parts pummelo, 2 parts orange, 1 part lemon) squeezed from the fruit after I removed the segments, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. I put all ingredients into a jar and shook to mix. The Dijon mustard gives it a little tang as well as allowing the oil and vinegar to mix and form an emulsion…

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It had been 1 hour 20 minutes, so I checked the chicken. If you don’t have and instant-read thermometer, get one. They’re cheap and they take a lot of the guesswork out of cooking. The chicken was at 155 degrees, so back in for 10 minutes. This time, the breasts were at a perfect (but steamy) 165 degrees…
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You can see here that the chicken is cooked and moist and the pan juices are dark and flavorful.

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The chicken had to rest for 20 minutes under a foil tent while I addressed the pan juices…

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I strained the pan juices into a small saucepan, skimmed off what fat I could (there wasn’t much), added 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Warm the juices gently while the chicken is resting. You should have just enough juices for a couple of spoonfuls over each serving of chicken, not like a lot of gravy. I carved the legs and thighs whole and removed the breast meat and sliced it. I cooked off a couple of skinless/boneless chicken breasts in the oven to compare.

The smashed potatoes were quick, 2 lbs of Red Bliss potatoes (unpeeled), covered with cold water, put over medium heat, and simmered until fork tender. I poured off the water and added 1/2 cup of hot milk (put in a coffee cup and heat in the microwave), 3 Tbsp of butter, salt and pepper to taste, not much since there were enough pan juices to use some over the potatoes. I used a hand masher to break up the potatoes, skin and all, and mix with the milk and butter.

I couldn’t believe how moist the chicken from the pot was, much moister than the chicken breasts from the oven. The boys ate both types of chicken and didn’t balk at the rosemary/bay taste from the chicken in the pot. The adults all enjoyed the dish immensely.

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One thought on “Chicken in a Pot, Smashed Potatoes, Citrus Salad

  1. This dinner sounds great. Costco sells whole organic chickens (in a 2 pack) and the are delicious, and pretty inexpensive. They also sell the boneless, skinless organic chicken which we buy all the time and it’s great! Thanks for the yummy idea!

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