Wednesday, January 11, 2012
M. Jacques' Armagnac (or Calvados) Chicken - French Fridays with Dorie
I don't know why I always confuse Armagnac with Calvados. Not that the opportunity to confuse them arises all that often, but when it does, I'm confused. According to Wikipedia, Armagnac is a "distinctive kind of brandy or eau de vie produced in the Armagnac region in Gascony, southwest France. It is distilled from wine usually made from a blend of Armagnac grapes." Calvados, on the other hand, is "an apple brandy from the French région of Basse-Normandie or Lower Normandy." So obviously no sane person could confuse them. But, although M. Jacques might be shocked to hear it, Calvados makes an excellent (fake) Armagnac chicken.
Other than using the wrong spirit, I think I did everything else according to recipe: the potatoes, carrots, and onions,
the 3 1/2 pound organic chicken (mine was 3.4 pounds, but I'm not giving myself a demerit for that),
and the enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. (I got this to bake no-knead bread back in the heyday of NKB's popularity, and have loved it ever since).
This roast chicken is made with an amazingly easy technique. The vegetables are tossed in heated olive oil for a few minutes, the bird is plunked down in the middle of the pan, and the whole thing goes in the oven for an hour. An untended, carefree hour during which the enormously appetizing smells wafting from the kitchen make you wish the houro would go by more quickly.
Dorie says the chicken will be "beautifully browned." I wouldn't go that far, but maybe it would have been browner if I hadn't been so eager to eat it. I'll be curious to see how brown everyone else's chicken got.
It's a homey dish for sure. It's perfect for a Sunday night family dinner, but maybe a touch too rustic for a dinner party. However, if you did opt to serve it to your snooty boss, for example, the snootiness would last only until the first bite of aromatic, moist chicken and tender brothy vegetables. And even the snootiest of bosses wouldn't care that you don't know your Armagnac from your Calvados.
Posted by Marie at 5:25 PM