On the Road to Plow Point Farms in Monroe, GA & a recipe for Armagnac Chicken
Robert and Russell are committed to enlarging their farm and are in the process of taking over Robert’s dad’s farm. They are hoping to raise more Black Baldy Cows (which are a cross between an Angus and a Hereford). They are also breeding and raising heritage rabbits. Both Robert and Russell are very fortunate in that they have inherited their family’s farms. If they had to purchase the land for their farming operations they would not be able to afford to buy it. In turn, we wouldn’t be able to afford to buy properly raised and harvested chickens. In addition, if the sons weren’t farming this land, it might have been sold to a developer or a corporate farming operation.
Holding a baby chick in your hands and then taking one of the processed birds home to prepare for dinner is a bit of a strange feeling. However, I would rather know where my food is coming from and see how it is raised. The flavor and the quality of their chickens and eggs from Plow Point Farms was exceptional.
I realize that not everyone can go to a farm to buy a chicken for supper. We are certainly not able to do it on a regular basis either, but I always buy a bird that is organic and has been humanely raised and treated without antibiotics. Yes, it may cost more per pound, but we are casting our vote for the way we want our food to be raised and processed. If more people would make the switch, many of the large corporate chicken farms would have to change their approach.
This heritage breed chicken was worthy of a proper French dish, so I prepared a Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for Armagnac Chicken. It is a simple meal that you prepare in one pot and let it cook on its own. The aroma of the Armagnac cooking with the chicken and the vegetables was intoxicating. The meat of this Poulet Rouge was perfect with these flavors.
Armagnac is a bit of an investment, but since you only need 1/2 cup for the dish, you will have the rest of the bottle to enjoy as a digestif after your dinner with a dessert or save it for future cooking!
We encourage you to support your local farmers. Know where your food comes from.
M. Jacque's Armagnac Chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
8 small thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and halved lengthwise (I used white potatoes)
3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled and thickly sliced on the diagonal
salt and freshly ground white pepper (I used Kosher salt)
1 thyme sprig
1 rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
1 chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, preferably organic, trussed (or wings turned under and feet tied together with kitchen string), at room temperature
1/2 cup Armagnac (Cognac of other brandy) * Use Armagnac if at all possible. It imparts a very different flavor to the dish.
1 cup water
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. You’ll need a heavy casserole with a tight-fitting cover, one large enough to hold the chicken snugly but still leave room for the vegetables. (I used a Le Creuset Dutch Oven.)
Put the casserole over medium heat and pour in the oil. When it’s warm, toss in the vegetables and turn them around in the oil for a minute or two until they glisten; season with salt and white pepper. Stir in the herbs and push everything to the sides of the pot to make way for the chicken.
Rub the chicken all over with salt and white pepper, nestle it in the pot, and pour the Armagnac around it. Leave the pot on the heat for a minute to warm the Armagnac, then cover it tightly – if your lid is shaky, cover the pot with a piece of aluminum foil and then put the cover in place.
Slide the casserole into the oven and let the chicken roast undisturbed for 60 minutes (Check temperature at 45 – 50 minutes. My chicken was done then.)
Transfer the pot to the stove and carefully remove the lid and foil (if you used it). Be careful to open the lid away from you, because there will be a lot of steam. After admiring your beautifully browned chicken, very carefully transfer it to a warm platter or a bowl; cover loosely with a foil tent.
Using a spoon, skim off the fat that will have risen to the top of the cooking liquid and discard it; pick out the bay leaf and discard it too. Turn the heat to medium, stir the vegetables gently to dislodge and that might have stuck to the bottom of the pot, and add the water, stirring to blend it with the pan juices. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until sauce thickens ever so slightly, then taste for salt and pepper.
Carve the chicken and serve with the vegetables and sauce.
Around My French – Table Dorie Greenspan