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Holiday Recipes: French Farmhouse Chicken

Satisfy friends and family with this hearty entrée

by CH Editors in Food + Drink on 15 November 2012

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In anticipation of the various gatherings that occur around this time of year, we've pulled together five of our favorite cookbooks from recent months. Each day this week, CH is featuring a different cookbook and recipe, the sum of which will make up a complete holiday meal. Next up is a juicy entrée from "Come In, We're Closed."

"Where the cooks eat well, you will eat better," concludes Ferran Adrià in the cookbook's foreword. His bold statement justifies the book's main goal: namely, to document staff meals at some of the world's great restaurants. Written by Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy, the tome digs into 25 establishments to provide summaries, chef interviews and recipes from each. By and large, the recipes are characterized by large yields, modest presentation and rich flavors. The aim of each dish is to please the one standard that truly matters to a line cook: taste.

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Chef and cookbook author Stéphane Reynaud of Villa9Trois supplies a chicken recipe that meets all the criteria for a great home-cooked meal: it is rich, uses one pan and is simple to make. His French Farmhouse Chicken and Potato Bake stuffs the bird with a cheese mixture that is later used as a molten dressing for the potatoes. While it may came from Reynaud's kitchen Montreuil in France, the tasty dish has international appeal.

"Come In, We're Closed" is available from Amazon. Read the full recipe after the jump.

Images of the book by James Thorne

Ingredients

6 medium yukon gold potatoes (about 2½ pounds or 1 kilogram), unpeeled, cut into large cubes
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 rosemary sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups (400 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons (15 grams) finely chopped basil
3 tablespoons (15 grams) finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons (15 grams) finely chopped chives
3 tablespoons (15 grams) finely chopped wild fennel (see note)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
1 large (4½-pound or 2 kilogram) whole chicken

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450° F (232° C). Place the potatoes and onions in a roasting pan large enough for the chicken. Add the rosemary, bay leaves and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss well to coat.

In a small bowl, stir together the cheese, basil, cilantro, chives and fennel. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the bird's cavity with the cheese mixture, then tie the two legs together with kitchen twine or twist tie. Bend the wings underneath the bird, and place the chicken breast-side-up on top of potatoes and onions. Drizzle everything, including the chicken breasts, with olive oil.

Roast for 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 350° F (177° C) and continue to roast for about 45 minutes to 90 minutes depending on the size of your bird, or until the skin is dark brown and crispy, the juices run clear at the joint when punctured with a thermometer, and the internal temperature reaches 165° F (74° C).

Remove the chicken from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and snip off the twine. With a sharp, heavy knife or heavy duty kitchen scissors, cut the chicken down the center of the breast bone, splitting it to reveal its molten cheese interior. Measure out about ½ cup (118 milliliters) of the melted cheese and mix it directly in the roasting pan with the potatoes and onions, making sure to incorporate the drippings. Scoop out any remaining melted cheese into a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice; keep warm.

Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and serve with the potatoes, onions and extra melted cheese for slathering over the chicken.

Note

Wild fennel is related to cultivated fennel but lacks its white edible bulb. It can be approximated by using the soft, feathery fronds left intact on untrimmed storebought fennel. Any thin stalks left behind can be steeped in boiling water for about an hour, then chilled to make a refreshing iced fennel tea.

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