Roast Chicken in a Butter Crust
Like chicken potpie and chicken noodle soup, this dish is all about the traditional flavors of home cooking, but concentrated to the nth degree. The chef Barbara Lynch based this easy one-pan dinner on a French dish called poulet en pain — chicken in bread — but she uses a buttery pie crust instead of bread dough. The crisp crust with juicy chicken and a fragrant vegetable stuffing is indescribably good and surprisingly easy to pull off. You can finish baking it up to two hours before serving — or even longer, as it’s also good at room temperature. Ms. Lynch recommends it as picnic fare. This stuffing is a familiar one, but any combination of sautéed vegetables and aromatics could be used, like mushrooms, winter squash or fennel; garlic, ginger or leeks; tarragon and parsley.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 3cups/360 grams all-purpose flour, more as needed
- 1 ½teaspoons kosher salt
- ½teaspoon sugar
- 6ounces/170 grams cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into large dice
- 1whole chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, giblets removed
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 2large celery stalks, cut into small dice
- 1large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
- 1onion or 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
- 1tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, thyme or a combination
- 1egg white
Step 1Make the crust: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, salt and sugar and mix briefly to combine. Add butter pieces and mix until butter breaks into smaller pieces and is evenly mixed with flour. Add 1/2 cup cold water and mix until dough begins to come together in one lump.
Step 2Turn off mixer, remove paddle and attach dough hook. Knead at low speed until a smooth mass forms, about 2 minutes. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand: push dough away from you with the heel of your hand, fold it over toward you, give it a quarter-turn, then repeat until dough feels elastic and moist. If dough feels sticky, knead in flour as you go, 1 tablespoon at a time. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
Step 3Make the chicken: Cut off wing tips and discard (or save for stock). Pat bird dry and sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, loosely covered, while you make the stuffing (or longer, up to 2 days).
Step 4Heat oil or butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add vegetables, herbs and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, at a gentle sizzle until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat as necessary to prevent browning. Set aside to cool.
Step 5Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Step 6Stuff chicken with the vegetables. To secure stuffing and keep the bird in a compact shape, cross legs at the “ankles” and tie together with twine.
Step 7On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into a rough circle that's large enough to enclose the chicken. Place stuffed chicken, breast side down, in the center. Wrap dough up and around the bird, encompassing it completely. Overlap the edges and pinch them closed to make a seam. Turn wrapped bird over and place seam side down on a baking sheet.
Step 8Whisk egg white with 1 tablespoon water and brush all over dough. Sprinkle very lightly with salt. Bake until crust is golden brown and meat is cooked through (165 degrees; it is O.K. to puncture the crust with the thermometer), 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on size.
Step 9Let cool 1 to 2 hours before serving. The meat will remain hot and the juices will be absorbed into the meat and the stuffing.
Step 10To serve, use your hands to break off the top of the crust and place on the baking sheet. The breasts will be on top: peel off skin, discard, and carve the breast meat off the bone. Continue carving, without turning bird over. The juices will soak into the crust and pool on the baking sheet: this is exactly what you want. Cut the twine and use a spoon to remove stuffing and divide on serving plates. Add chicken and pieces of crust to each plate. Tilt pan and spoon up juices to pour over meat and vegetables. Serve immediately.