Thursday, May 26, 2011

'Chicken in a Pot' recipe suggestion

In response to Jennifer G.’s search for a recipe for Armenian chicken in a pot with potatoes, Ara Kassabian offered the following suggestion. Now we await Jennifer’s thoughts.



“Jennifer's chicken in a pot sounds like an Armenian version of an etouffee. The two key missing pieces of information are: 1) what were the herbs she mentions? and 2) was there any sauce (like tomato sauce)? Despite this, however, it sounds pretty simple. Here is one suggestion:


1 whole chicken (2-3 pounds), cut up
2 medium size potatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Salt, pepper
Fresh herbs (see below)
Vegetable oil, such as safflower, canola, etc., or clarified butter
Chopped garlic?


Armenians from different parts of Armenia would most likely use different herbs. Not knowing anything about Jennifer's grandmas, I am suggesting using 1 bunch of either tarragon or dill or savory. Personally, I would go for the tarragon. Just wash the herbs, take the leafs off the stem but leave them whole.


Depending on the herb you use, you might want to consider adding some chopped garlic. If so, use sparingly so as not to overpower the flavor of the herbs.

Preparation:


Coat the bottom of a dutch oven or tight-fitting pot with the oil (about 2-3 tbsp). Layer the potatoes at the bottom (one layer), then layer the chicken pieces on top, starting with the dark meat. Salt and pepper as you go. Add a 1/4 cup water. If you are using garlic, add the garlic.


Note: The pot should be big enough that the food should not come up to more than halfway. If not using a dutch oven, you could tie a kitchen towel around the lid to improve the seal. In the old days, they would use dough, formed into a ring.

Cover tightly, bring to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer for about 1/2 hour. Open the pot, quickly pile the herbs on top and close. If the water has completely evaporated, then add a little water (a few tablespoons at most). Close again and place on the fire for another 1/2 hour. Even though Jennifer says it would cook all day, I don't think it should take more than an hour, depending on the size of the chicken (maybe two hours). It occurs to me that you could equally well make this in the oven, if you have an oven-proof dish. Maybe a couple of hours at 350F.


When it's done, let it rest for a few minutes, then serve. I would suggest serving with a sauce on the side. Depending on the herbs you use, I could do a quick lemon-garlic sauce, or even a sweet chutney (maybe some apricot jam diluted in a little water, butter, with some ground walnut).


An Armenian friend of my mom (from the Republic of Armenia) had a similar, very simple chicken recipe: Take a whole, cut up, chicken, 1 cup rice, put them in a pressure cooker with very little water (about a cup?) and of course salt/pepper. Cook it for about 1/2 hour. I think you could also layer potatoes at the bottom of the pressure cooker. They would get crispy on the bottom. There is no need for fat because the chicken renders its own fat.


Hope this helps.”

3 comments:

  1. Thanks! I think I'll give it a shot!!

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  2. Great! Please let us know how it comes out.

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  3. I did a little more research since I sent in my suggestion to Robyn. I found several recipes online (in Armenian) that are basically like the one I sent in. However, they do add lemon juice or a little tomato sauce, which does make sense. And only 1 hour in the oven at 350F.

    In one case, the recipe suggests boiling the chicken first, then cooking the potatoes, then adding the chicken back in 10 minutes before the end, but that seems overly complicated to me.

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