Pot Roast Chicken, my Ultimate Winter Warmer

There is no escaping it. We are in the depths of dark British winter, and full on January blues have set in. If, like me, you are searching for the ultimate comfort food to keep you going through  these short days, I have a solution: Pot Roast Chicken. Not quite a stew, not quite a roast, this is a whole chicken oven cooked in a covered cast iron pan. Appealing to my inner purist self this recipe only requires six ingredients. It doesn’t require basting or tending to during cooking, and at the end of 75 minutes undisturbed oven time, out of the pot emerges a delicate, succulent and juicy bird with perfect gravy ready to go.

I make this chicken often. I usually make two, just so that I have one in the fridge for leftover salads and sandwiches during the week, or as a filling for the family favourite chicken pie (you can use this recipe and replace the turkey with the cooked chicken and the self made gravy in the bottom of the pot).

Don't get me wrong, I love roasting a chicken nestled on top of an array of vegetables for a one dish meal, but there are advantages to this method too.  Using only shallots, garlic, herbs and wine for flavour the generous amount of perfect self made gravy at the bottom of the pot is not absorbed by the extra vegetables, and thus plenty remains to spoon over everything else on the plate.  If you are however after a one dish meal, feel free to add leeks, carrots, fennel, parsnips, potatoes or any other hardy veg in your fridge (just veer away from leafy greens, peas and the like).

So if you are looking for that soothing winter comfort meal to warm you from the inside, try this Pot Roast Chicken for size. And please let me know if it  soothes your winter blues like it does mine!

Pot Roast Chicken

I serve this chicken either carved on a serving plate and covered in the gravy and onions, or I shred the meat back into the delicious sauce and spoon the almost stew over spelt (or any other grain of choice).

1 medium/large chicken salt and pepper 1 tbsp olive oil 4 banana shallots or smallish onions, peeled and quartered 1 head of garlic, cloves separate but unpeeled 2 fresh bay leaves 3 sage leaves 2 sprigs tarragon 6-8 sprigs thyme 350ml (approx 1.5 cups) white wine or vermouth

An hour before you want to cook the chicken, remove it from the fridge to bring it to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 180C. Dry the chicken completely and season all over with salt and pepper Place a heavy bottomed casserole with a tight fitting lid on a high heat and add the olive oil and then the chicken, breast side down.  Brown for 5 minutes on each side until it is golden. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the cut onion, garlic and fresh herbs.  Toss them in the oil until they are browned and fragrant. Keeping the pan on the heat, add the chicken back into the pan breast side down, and pour the wine around the bird.  The liquid should come about 1/3 of the way up the chicken.  If you are using a larger size pan, top up with a little water or more wine. Bring the liquid to the boil, shaking the pan to emulsify everything. Pop the lid on and put in the oven for 60-70 minutes.  There is no need to baste the chicken while it is cooking, but check it after an hour to see if it is done.  There should be a wonderful gravy in the bottom.

Allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes before carving.

Notes: If you do not have a casserole with a lid, brown the chicken and aromatics in a frying pan, and transfer it all to a roasting tin.  Add the liquid, and cover with a dampened piece of baking parchment and two layers of foil to really seal it in.

Feel free to add vegetables suggested above when you add the onions and garlic.