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Overnight chicken in a pot has become the savior of our weeknight cooking

Overview Ingredients Steps Overview It’s been a couple years now since at-home sous-vide has come into vogue
And for good reason: Who doesn’t want perfectly cooked food that you needn’t watch over every moment? You too can now emulate your favorite restaurant chef! But as soon as the news of those “affordable” circulators and, more recently, sous-vide sticks hit the market — Control with an app! You needn’t even be home to get dinner on! — the hairs on the back of my neck began to stand up
Why? Because home cooks are not restaurant chefs, and were never meant to be. We have neither investors nor line cooks, dishwashers nor endless counter space
The batterie of the home cook is smaller and more flexible, and it’s put into use with economy and know-how
Still, I’m not immune to the siren song of new culinary toys, especially ones that promise low-maintenance paths to dinner
As busy parents of toddler twins, my chef husband and I have struggled to cook since our kids were born
Despite plenty of kitchen skills between us, we work opposite schedules: he mostly nights, me mostly days
We’re often ships passing in the night. Trying to still a wriggling kid who’s trying to reach into a pot of boiling water (while we settle for pasta, yet again) hardly fulfills my vision of work/life balance
Last year, in the doldrums (and sticker shock) over our expanding takeout habit, I found myself begrudgingly researching sous-vide equipment, sniffing for the silver bullet solution to our woes: We still want to cook and eat well, not just quickly
I considered asking for a sous-vide stick as a gift, then immediately started backpedaling
Our kitchen drawers were already cluttered, I have a gut aversion to cooking in (and throwing away) all that plastic, and finally, money
What else could we do with those extra bucks (at home sous-vide sticks start around $45 and “water ovens” can cost upwards of $1,000): extra hours from the babysitter, a massage, maybe even part of a vacation? I tucked the sous-vide idea away and decided to muddle through
It was my husband, often still awake when I’m already sacked out, who struck on an idea one night
He came home from work, wiped. We had a chicken in the fridge that I’d been promising to roast, but hadn’t gotten around to
The fridge was mostly empty, and we had no dinners planned for the week. With no energy to sit up while the bird roasted, he cranked the oven high, seasoned the chicken aggressively, put it in a heavy lidded pot, and stuck it in the oven for a half hour to start it browning
When the kitchen began to fill with the scent of rendering fat, he added water to come up the bird a little more than halfway, clapped the pot’s top on, turned the oven down to 200 degrees, and went to bed
The next morning, we unlidded the thing: The chicken was straw gold on top, with an almost creamily luscious broth surrounding it in
The meat pulled off the bone at the barest pull from a fork. We used the liquid as the base for soup, shredding half the meat to add in and saving the rest to serve cold on salads later in the week
We tried again the next week, dropping a couple star anise, a cinnamon stick and some coriander seed into the pot with the water, then added a tangle of rice noodles when we reheated the broth, along with an oddball selection of chopped vegetables and some almost-forgotten cilantro from the crisper drawer
Delighted at having dodged the takeout bill, we dubbed it “faux pho.” [Start with overnight poached chicken, then head right into pho territory] My pleasure in this new turn in our kitchen took on the air of gospel, as I told similarly time-strapped friends about the overnight chicken
Chris described it as slow poached. I, the curmudgeon Luddite, called it analog sous-vide: pragmatic, foolproof and totally devoid of wires or apps
And we’d kept the gadgetry wolves at bay. Quickly, the overnight chicken became the foundation of our work-week cooking
We’ve found it endlessly versatile, shredding the meat for tacos, tossing cubed chicken into pasta, serving it cold over salads, and tucking it into our kids’ lunchboxes
When we don’t need the broth right away, we freeze it, building an arsenal for future soups, stews and braises
Leftover meat goes into cold noodle salads for lunch or sits atop mounds of rice with a fried egg for a speedy working-at-home lunch for me
It’s a terrific get-ahead trick for all sorts of chicken soups, broth and meat in one
MAKE AHEAD: The bird needs to air-dry in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours. The cooked chicken meat and broth can be refrigerated, separately, for up to 5 days; the broth can be frozen for up to a year
Ingredients One 3- to 3 1/2-pound whole chicken (giblet packed removed, if there is one) Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper 6 cups water, or more as needed Steps Step 1 Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cool running water (optional; this is done to remove any moisture or liquid from the packaged bird
Do the rinsing carefully, without causing a lot of splashing, and this should not increase chance of kitchen contamination)
Pat dry with a paper towel and set on a large plate. Season aggressively with kosher salt all over and inside the cavity
Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours, and up to 24 hours. Step 2 When you’re ready to begin cooking, position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees
Step 3 Place the chicken in a Dutch oven (8-quart) or heavy pot with a lid. Season with several grinds of black pepper
Roast, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the skin has browned, then remove the pot from the oven, leaving the oven door ajar
Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees. Step 4 Add the water to the pot, or more as needed to come up about two-thirds on the sides
Cover tightly and return to the oven; slow-roast, undisturbed with the oven door closed, for 6 to 8 hours
Step 5 Transfer to the stove top (off the heat) until the broth has cooled to a warm, non-injurious temperature
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board; pull all the meat, discarding the skin and bones
Strain the broth in the pot, discarding any solids. Step 6 Use right away, or place in separate containers for storing (see OVERVIEW)
Adapted from a recipe by chef Chris Bradley. Tested by Helen Horton; email questions to [email protected]
com. Did you make this recipe? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram with #eatvoraciously
For a printer-friendly and scalable version of this recipe, view it here. The nutritional analysis is based on 3 1/2 cups cooked chicken meat only (no skin)
Nutrition Calories: 210; Total Fat: 9 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 95 mg; Sodium: 380 mg; Carbohydrates: 0 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 0 g; Protein: 32 g

Randall Smitham



  1. Andrew William Clark Posted on January 20, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    So you just steal arti2crom Wash Post and have them auto read….fuvking lazy.