Pollo alla Birra

We’ve been enjoying roaming through our latest cookbook “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine” by well-known chef Lidia Bastianich. One frigidly-cold Winter’s Sunday we decided to prepare her Chicken in Beer recipe along with Molly Stevens’ Fennel Braised with Thyme and Black Olives (which I’ll post next.)

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OMG, OMG!! We fell head over heals with both of these braises. The complexity of flavors is amazing and soooo nuanced with a myriad of undertones you practically swoon over every single mouthful. I was originally concerned over the amount of liquid in the braise, but it turned out to be perfect. Just make sure to reduce down the liquid after removing the bird and veggies, you’ll want to save every last drop of the liquid gold. Instead of skimming the fat from the juice, I find it’s easier to put it into a fat separator, and pour from there.

The beer in the chicken entrée adds an interesting depth of distinction, along with the homemade stock and apple cider, and leaves the bird moist with a great glossy skin. Those root vegetables literally melt in your mouth and the sage lends a delightful bass note. Barely discernible but certainly adding to the intricacy of flavors was the cinnamon and whole cloves.

NOTE: Our parsnips were very large, and once they get that big, you need to cut out the woody core. You may think that you dislike parsnips, but they take on an earthy sweet taste in this recipe.

All said and done, between prep and cooking, this meal took me three hours, so it’ll likely be a weekend endeavor for you. But oh so very worth every minute of your time!

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Chicken in Beer

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • A 3½- to- 4- pound roasting chicken
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, halved crosswise, and quartered lengthwise (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled, halved crosswise, and quartered lengthwise (about 6 ounces total)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, left whole
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1½ cups stock (chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth) or water
  • 1½ cups (one 12- ounce bottle) flavorful beer or ale
  • 1 cup nonalcoholic apple cider, preferably unfiltered

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Directions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 400 degrees F.
  2. Trim the excess fat from the chicken, and season it inside and out with half of the salt.
  3. Scatter the onions, carrot, parsnips, sage, cloves, and cinnamon in a large Dutch oven big enough to hold the chicken with a little room around the edges. Sprinkle over this the rest of the salt, and set the chicken on top of the vegetables.
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  4. Put the pot on the stove, pour in the stock, beer, and apple cider, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
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  5. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes on top of the stove.
  6. Put the pot in the oven, and roast the chicken for about 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices two or three times.
  7. Cover the chicken with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent over-browning, and roast another 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the foil, and roast another 20 to 30 minutes, basting frequently, until the chicken and vegetables are cooked through and tender.
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  9. Remove the chicken to a warm platter, and surround with the vegetables. Bring the pan juices to a boil on top of the stove, skim the fat, and cook until reduced by half. Carve the chicken, and spoon some of the pan juices on top.


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Lidia Bastianich is an Emmy award-winning public television host, a best‐selling cookbook author, restaurateur, and owner of a flourishing food and entertainment business.

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