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Chicken in a Bread Crust (Poulet Cuit Dans du Pain)

Jon
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| Servings: 6 to 8 servings

This is a very impressive dish, which I got from Régine Sibelle, one of the best known producers of poulets de Bresse. This dish is native to the Bresse area, generally considered a part of Burgundy, where the famous Bresse chickens, their white plumage shining in the sun, run, peck, and build up considerable flesh and flavor. This is a wonderful way to prepare a Bresse or any other kind of chicken, for it steams inside the dough, absorbing an herbal flavor which only enhances its own. It emerges from the oven looking like a big dumpling, golden, redolent of vegetables and herbs. Try to cut it at the table so that guests can share that magic moment when the steam curls forth and floods the room with aroma.  Serve a red Burgundy alongside. – Susan Herrmann Loomis

Ingredients

For the Dough and the Egg Wash

  • 4 pounds (2 kg) Simple Bread (multiply the recipe on page 324 by 4) or use your favorite french bread recipe.
  • 2 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons water

For the Chicken

  • 1 chicken (3½ to 4 pounds; 1¼ to 2 kg), with giblets
  • ½ lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 2 imported bay leaves
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed

For the Vegetables

  • 8 ounces (250 g) carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch (½ cm) rounds
  • 1 pound 10 ounces (800 g) leeks, white and pale green parts only, well rinsed and diced
  • 2 small waxy potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, green germ removed, and minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1½ teaspoons
  • 1 cup (160 g) fresh green peas

Instruction

  1. Let the bread dough rise until not quite double, 1 hour. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the water.
  2. Remove the giblets from the interior of the chicken. Squeeze the lemon half into the cavity and season the cavity with salt and pepper. Add the squeezed lemon half and the giblets to the cavity, along with the thyme and the bay leaves. Truss the chicken.
  3. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. Remove the chicken from the skillet, add more oil if necessary, and add the carrots, leeks, potatoes, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium. Stir so the vegetables are coated with the oil and cook just until they wilt but are not cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add the thyme leaves. Transfer the vegetables to a large shallow dish, stir in the peas, and leave to cool to room temperature.
  6. Preheat the over to 325°F (165°C).
  7. Lightly oil a 10½ x 14-inch (27 x 35 cm) baking pan.
  8. Roll out the dough to form a 16-inch (40 cm) square, making it. slightly thicker in the center. Place the cooled vegetables in the center of the dough, set the chicken atop the vegetables, and bring the dough up and around the chicken. To do this, bring three of the corners individually up and over the chicken, pressing them into each other. Bring the fourth corner up and over the others, pressing it down to 10ck them together.
  9. Carefully lift the wrapped chicken and place it in the prepared baking pan.
  10. Paint the bread with the egg wash, and place the pan in the center of the oven. Bake until the bread is cooked through and puffed and golden all over, about 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F.
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for at least 20 minutes or as long as 1 hour. Use a serrated knife to cut the dough away from the chicken, and then carve the chicken as you usually do. Serve the pieces of bread along with the chicken and a spoonful of the vegetables.

Notes

  1. Source: French Farm House Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis
  2. If you can not find enough leeks substitute white onions.
Poulet Cuit Dans du Pain

Poulet Cuit Dans du Pain

Poulet Cuit Dans du Pain

Poulet Cuit Dans du Pain

Poulet Cuit Dans du Pain

Poulet Cuit Dans du Pain

Wrapping the Chicken

Wrapping the Chicken

Bread Dough Rolled Out

Bread Dough Rolled Out

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trussing the Chicken

Trussing the Chicken

Sauting the Leeks, Carrots, Onions and Garlic

Sauting the Leeks, Carrots, Onions and Garlic