Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chicken and Endives

Apparently there is a bit of debate at my parents house regarding this dish. My mother has been cooking the chicken untrussed and at a starting temperature of 350 degrees, forever. My father has just informed her -- after almost fifty years together -- that the chicken is superior when it is trussed and cooked at a starting temperature of 325 degrees.

So glad I missed that conversation.

This is my grandmaman's (my father's mother) recipe. I have been enjoying her chicken and endives just about all my life, as my mother has prepared it.

Not knowing differently, I have always followed my mother's version of this recipe.

I had hoped to try my grandmaman's original method, so that I could present the absolute best formula, but I ran out of time and energy. I just couldn't reacquaint myself with trussing or add an additional forty or so minutes to the cooking time.

I'll get back to you on that.

Plus, it would be unfair of me to keep this terrific family recipe to myself any longer. Trussed or un-trussed this chicken is a home-run.

The whole chicken cooks on a rack in a dutch oven surrounded by endives and daubed in butter. Salt, and pepper are the only other ingredients needed.

Happily, the outcome is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Preparation takes about ten minutes and then you'll need about an hour and a half to cook the bird.

In the last twenty minutes, I highly recommend cooking up a little pot of rice. You'll want something to soak up the delicious pan juices.

This is one of the simplest recipes that I know, but you would never guess it, if you walked into my house midway through the cooking process. The house smells like you are in the midst of baking the most heavenly dessert.

Even A. with his intense aversion to poultry has been fooled by the aroma of this dish.

It must be the endives braising in the butter and chicken drippings. Their lusciousness imparts just a hint of bitterness along with their sweetness, keeping the dish nicely balanced.

My mother usually only adds four endives. Not enough at all! I cram in as many as I can fit in the dutch oven. The chicken is terrific, but the endives are the stars here.

Even with the last fifteen minutes of cooking at a high heat of 450 degrees, the chicken will not get as crispy and brown as a perfect roast chicken.

You probably won't be able to impress guests with the outward beauty of this dish. Rather, save it for dear friends that deserve to be treated to a comforting meal.

Chicken with Endives

1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
8 or more endives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Trim just the very ends and any bruised leaves from the endives. Rinse under cold water and dry.

Generously season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Place the chicken breast-side up on a rack in a dutch oven. Place the endives all around the chicken. Add butter shavings over the top of the chicken and the endives. Don't be shy with the butter! Cover and place in the oven.

Baste the chicken with the pan juices every 20 minutes or so. Cook the chicken until it is nearly done, about an hour, and the drumsticks are beginning to pull away from the body.

Raise the temperature to 450 degrees.

Continue to cook, uncovered, for approximately 15 minutes until the chicken is golden brown.

Carve the chicken and serve with endives, on rice, with pan juices dribbled over.

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