For almost four years, I lived in a studio with just a two burner stovetop. No oven. At my new place, I’ve updated to a 4-burner stove but still no oven. So over this time, I have gotten pretty creative with baking things in a toaster oven. Chalk it up to small space living in New York City! I’m not much of a baker anyway, so it’s not a huge compromise for me. I learned how to make lasagna, meatballs, muffins, brownies, broiled fish & chicken, even cornbread in the toaster oven. But I figured there would just be some things I would not be able to make until someday when I have a full size stove/oven. One of those things was a whole roast chicken.
A couple months ago, my mom got me a 5-quart Le Creuset dutch oven (in orange!) for a new apartment gift. Thanks Mom! It was a splurge, but my mom has a knack for bargain hunting at outlet stores so she said she got a great deal on it. She got me the oval-shaped one because she said it would be easier to cook a whole chicken it it. I was baffled and asked her, do you mean I can roast a chicken in a pot? She said, well yes… that’s why it’s called a dutch oven (because it retains heat like an oven). I was a little skeptical but decided to give it a try.
Most recipes I found called for browning the chicken in the dutch oven, and then throwing the whole pot into a real oven for finishing– like this one from The Little Yellow Kitchen. But my mom insisted the whole feat could be accomplished on the stovetop. Mom is usually right.
I chose to try this with a small chicken. I got one from the Inwood farmers market that was just under 3lbs. From Wildcraft Farms.
Side note: I rarely buy meat from the farmers market. I am hesitant because the prices are a bit steep (this chicken was $16!) — but I have to admit the times I have gotten meat from local farms, the quality has been really good. Very tasty– a noticeable difference, actually. In the end this chicken was enough for 3 meals. So that’s a pretty good value, given that it’s organic, hormone-free, and locally-raised. A happy bird! Also, the guy from Wildcraft Farms won me over. I asked him how to prepare this chicken. He leaned in and said, “Don’t bother cleaning it. I cleaned this chicken with my own hands. Open it up and you’ll see. It’s ready to roast.” And he was right! Spick and span!
I stuffed the cavity with lemon wedges and onion. Then I made a spice rub with salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and oregano and rubbed it all over the skin. Then I rubbed a little extra virgin olive oil all over.
I stuck a bay leaf under the skin, just for some extra flavor.
Next, I heated some canola oil in the dutch oven. I added some sliced onion and root vegetables– celery, carrots, and parsnips.
After a couple minutes, I added the chicken. Just plopped the whole thing in, like so:
I started with the breast side up, but it doesn’t really matter which side goes first. I let it sit for a while so it browned on the bottom. Then it was time to flip it. Not the easiest task, I used a pair of tongs in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other. Glad I picked a small chicken! Be careful because the hot oil can splatter.
My mom said you have to brown the chicken on all sides. This requires some maneuvering as you have to stand the chicken up to get to some of the sides. After it’s brown on all sides, toss in any remaining veggies, turn the heat down low, and cover the dutch oven. You DO NOT need to add any liquid. I asked my mom this like three times. ARE YOU SURE it won’t burn? Should I add water or broth? She said no, the chicken fat keeps it moist and it won’t burn. Of course, I didn’t believe her so I added a splash of chicken broth. Turns out, she was totally right. The broth didn’t hurt but the veggies got a little soupy. And the chicken skin wasn’t as crispy as it could have been because of the added liquid.
Anyway, let the chicken cook covered for at least 35 minutes. I checked it after this time, and the white meat was done but the dark meat near the bone was still a bit rare. I covered it again and let it cook for another 10 min. Then I removed the chicken and let it rest on a cutting board for another 10 min. Done! Rotisserie style chicken completed all on the stove top!
I was really pleased with how this turned out, and how uncomplicated it was! Apart from wrestling a bit with the whole chicken, it pretty much just involved throwing everything into a pot and letting it cook unattended. I think this is a great alternative to the store-bought rotisserie chickens I sometimes pick up. Those are great too, and really convenient, but depending on when you buy them, they could have been roasting under that heat lamp for a long time. Also– by making my own I can control the spices/taste, and how much salt/oil I use. This turned out to a be a lemon-herb roasted chicken, but you could stuff it with garlic or sage, or you could do a spicy rub… any combination of flavors!
Also, I saved the bones to make organic chicken stock. All in all, a $16 well spent.
DUTCH OVEN CHICKEN
1 small-to-medium size whole chicken (no more than 5lb)
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1/2 an onion, cut into chunks
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into chunks
2 celery stalks, sliced into chunks
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced into chunks
Make sure chicken is thoroughly clean and patted dry. Stuff the body cavity with the lemon and onion. Combine salt, pepper, herbs, and paprika in a small bowl. Sprinkle it onto the chicken and rub into the skin with your fingers. Drizzle the olive oil on top and gently rub to coat the chicken. Slide a bay leaf under the skin of the breast.
In a 5-quart dutch oven, heat the canola oil. Add in onions and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Push veggies around the sides of the pot and then add the whole chicken (any side down). Brown that side of the chicken for 5 minutes. Flip over and brown the other side for 5 minutes. Repeat until all sides are brown. You may need to stand the chicken up in order to do this– use tongs and/or get someone to help you.
After all sides are brown, throw in the carrots and parsnips to the pot. Turn down the burner to low and cover the dutch oven with its lid. Let it cook for 40-45 minutes for a 3lb chicken, 60 minutes for a 5lb chicken. Check to see that the juices run clear when you slice the meat and that the dark meat near the bone is cooked through.
When done, turn off the burner and remove the chicken from the pot. Let it rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board. Tent the chicken with foil.
Slice and serve immediately with the veggies from the pot. Leftovers can be shredded and refrigerated to use later in chicken salad, chicken noodle soup, stir fry, etc. The bones can be used to make chicken stock.
All photography is (c) Girl and Fork.