Pot-au-feu is the absolute funnest way to serve boiled food (not necessarily always the funnest food). It is traditionally made by boiling tough cuts of beef, maybe some marrow bones, and a bunch of vegetables all together in water, and then serving the resulting broth as an appetizer followed by a second course of the meat and vegetables with exciting sauces for dipping. For this chicken pot-au-feu, I use the Chinese “white-cut” method, a traditional poaching technique that involves simmering the chicken in water for a relatively short period of time and then turning off the heat, covering the pot, and letting the chicken sit and poach and get all silky and juicy. After pulling the chicken meat off its bones, put the bones back in the broth to mingle with the vegetables, which can be whatever you like, really. We’ll serve it with some crusty bread, a creamy mustard sauce with the surprise additions of Thai sweet chili and dill, and a Chinese scallion-horseradish sauce that I stole from my friend Francis Lam and then tweaked a little. This fairly hands-off project does take a couple of days, but it makes for a totally manageable, still super-impressive party.
One 3-to 4-pound (1.4 to 1.8kg) chicken
2 tablespoons kosher salt
12 sprigs (10g) fresh thyme
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
One 2-inch (5cm) piece fresh horseradish, sliced into 1/4-inch (6mm) rounds
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, roughly cut into 1/4-inch (6mm) slices
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup (240ml) peanut oil
Sweet Mustard Crème Fraîche
1/2 cup (115g) crème fraîche
1/4 cup (60g) sweet chili sauce
1/4 bunch (25g) dill, finely chopped
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 cups (2.8L) water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 bunch (1 pound/450g) baby turnips, greens removed and washed but kept separate
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, roots removed
2 large carrots, peeled and quartered
1 bunch (about 1 pound/450g) asparagus, tough ends removed
Loaf of crusty bread, for serving
1. Place the chicken in a ziplock freezer bag and season it inside and out with the salt. Add the thyme, shallot, and pepper, seal the bag, and give it a good shake to make sure that everything is more or less distributed. Put the bag in a bowl or plastic container to prevent leakage, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.
2. While the chicken brines, make the scallion-horseradish sauce. Put the horseradish in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the scallions and pulse until everything is about the same size. Transfer the mixture to a metal mixing bowl with sides that are high enough to hold 3 cups of peanut oil (we’re using only a cup, but it can bubble way up and we want to be safe!). Add the salt and stir to mix. In a small saucepan, heat the peanut oil until it begins to smoke. Pour it over the scallion and horseradish mixture, stir, and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a plastic container with a lid for several weeks or until you eat all of it on everything. Give the sauce a stir before serving.
3. To make the sweet mustard crème fraîche, in a small mixing bowl, combine the crème fraîche, chili sauce, dill, mustard, and salt and stir well. Refrigerate in a small container with a lid for up to 1 week.
4. After the chicken has brined, remove it from the bag, give it a quick rinse, and discard the thyme and shallot. Put the chicken in your largest stockpot and add the water. Bring the water to a simmer over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the chicken for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the chicken sit for another 30 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, with one side inserted into the chicken’s neck cavity and the other side on its back, pull the chicken out of the pot, let it drain, and transfer to a plate to rest.
5. Season the broth left over in the pot with the honey and soy sauce. Bring it up to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
6. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, carve it into 10 pieces as you would break down a chicken, keeping the breasts, thighs, and drumsticks whole and doing your best to keep the skin intact. Carefully remove the bones from the breasts and thighs and reserve. Slice each piece of chicken crosswise into 1/2-inch (1.3cm) slices (leave the drumsticks and wings whole and bone-in) and arrange them on a platter large enough to accommodate the chicken and all of the veggies. Cover the chicken with a piece of foil to keep it warm.
7. Put the reserved chicken bones into the broth and add the turnips, scallions, and carrots. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender. Add the asparagus and turnip greens in tight bunches, cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they’re pretty tender but still a bit green.
8. Remove the foil from the chicken and ladle a bit of hot broth onto it on the platter. Arrange the vegetables on the platter around the chicken, keeping each type of vegetable together with its friends so that they look cool.
9. Serve the everybody some broth in little bowls. While they’re eating it, bring out the platter of chicken and vegetables, the sauces to dip everything into, and some crusty bread.
Excerpted from Food52 Dynamite Chicken by Tyler Kord. Copyright 2019 Ten Speed Press.
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