This is a luscious American classic based on a French dish called “poulet en cocotte”. Do not be afraid of all that olive oil and garlic! When it slow roasts with the chicken, it mellows and sweetens, loses its harsh bite, and gives your meal an intoxicating aroma.
- Your portion of chicken leg quarters
- 1/2 cup olive oil (not in box)
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp grated or ground nutmeg (not in box)
- 1–2 heads garlic
- 1 cup celery, washed and chopped large and rough (optional– if you have some hanging around)
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped large and rough
- 6–12 whole sprigs of parsley, washed
- 1/2 cup brandy or white wine (not in box– if you don’t have any, use stock or water)
- 2 TBS cold butter (only in large boxes)
- 1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and find an ovenproof, heavy dish with a heavy, well-fitting lid that is large enough to hold your chicken. A cast-iron dutch oven, heavy casserole dish with heavy lid, or a French ceramic coated cast-iron “coquotte” dish is perfect. (You could also use a slow cooker or an Insta-Pot.)
- 2. Pat your chicken pieces as dry as you can on both sides, using paper towels. Get a saute pan very hot on the stove on high heat and add a glug of olive oil. Brown all the chicken on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side on high heat. Now put the chicken legs in a large bowl (don’t wash the saute pan yet!). Add to the bowl the rest of the olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and toss everything together to coat all the chicken well.
- 3. In your oven-proof dish, put the large pieces of celery (optional), onion, and parsley sprigs. Large is better here because you are going to remove these after cooking anyway. Break your heads of garlic into cloves (by banging them sharply on the counter) but don’t peel the cloves. Add all the unpeeled garlic cloves to the oven-proof dish. Now dump the chicken with the seasonings and olive oil on top of all these aromatics. Remember the pan you browned the chicken in? Add the brandy or wine to the pan and put it over medium heat on the stove. Use a spatula to scrape up all the brown bits, and pour the contents of the pan over the chicken in the casserole dish. Cut the butter up into a few pieces and dot these over the top of the chicken.
- 4. Put a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil directly on the surface of the chicken, to reduce the air gap as much as possible. Now cover the whole thing with the tight fitting lid and place it in the oven for 90 minutes without disturbing it. (For a slow cooker or Insta-Pot, set it on High for 4 hours.) Go read a book, take a bath, or take a walk!
- 5. Remove the casserole from the oven and put the chicken on a plate. Use a spoon or tongs to remove the garlic cloves to their own little bowl. Use the roasted garlic for Veronica’s Roasted Beets and Fennel with Goat Cheese Crostini, or just squeeze it out onto the chicken if you prefer. Strain the remaining pan sauce on top of the chicken.