How To Cook a Whole Chicken Dinner in the Dutch Oven
We can all agree on the perfection of a roast chicken dinner. Juicy, tender chicken, a crackle of golden chicken skin, all on top of a bed of supple, caramelized vegetables. It’s hard to think of a more iconic poultry dish, except for maybe Thanksgiving Turkey.
This Dutch oven roasting trick was something I picked up while working on a cookbook a few years ago. In his book, EverydayCook, Alton Brown roasts a whole turkey inside a Dutch oven, which cuts down on the roasting time and keeps the turkey from drying out. While you’ll need a specific Dutch oven for a Thanksgiving bird, an everyday Dutch oven can turn chicken into an inspired all-in-one dinner.
A Full Meal, All in One Dutch Oven
Often recipes for roast chicken don’t mention the vegetables that really should be included with every baked bird. Not only do the vegetables give the bird a little more height for more even cooking all around, but the vegetables are also transformed by the slow drip of fat and juices that come from the chicken. We’re going one step further, adding dry cubes of bread to the butternut squash, red onions, and thyme to make a rustic stuffing.
For Your Information
- The chicken roasts for a total of 1 1/2 hours at 375°F. The first hour of cooking the Dutch oven will be closed, cooking the chicken until tender and juicy. The chicken is cooked uncovered for the last 30 minutes for crispy golden skin.
- You’ll also need a small butternut squash, about 4 cups of bread cubes — this is roughly a small loaf — a red onion, and a few thyme sprigs.
Key Steps for Roasting a Chicken in a Dutch Oven
- Make space for the chicken. Your goal here? Get the chicken to sit a little higher in the Dutch oven, but not so high that it will touch the lid when closed. Make an even layer with the vegetables, then make a small divet or well in the vegetables before placing the chicken inside the Dutch oven.
- Roast for 1 hour, covered. The first hour of cooking is all about juicy, tender chicken meat and soft, supple vegetables. Yes, some browning will occur, but all of the moisture from the chicken and the vegetables is staying inside the Dutch oven.
- Uncover for crispy golden skin. The last 30 minutes of roasting, remove the lid and cook until the skin is golden and crisp. You won’t need to do any basting or buttering — just take off the lid, roast for 30 more minutes, and then test for doneness. At this point your chicken should be almost fall-apart tender (think: rotisserie chicken) and have an internal temperature of at least 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh.
Serving a Dutch Oven Chicken Dinner
Rest the chicken in the Dutch oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Then carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board to cut it into pieces. Serve the chicken pieces along with the squash and bread, which have become a sort of savory winter vegetable bread salad.
- 1 (3- to 4-pound)
whole chicken, such as a broiler or fryer
- 2 teaspoons
- 4 cups
dry bread cubes (approximately 1-inch cubes)
- 2 cups
(1/2-inch) butternut squash cubes (from about 1 small squash)
large red onion, chopped
- 4 sprigs
Kitchen twine (optional)
6- to 8-quart Dutch oven
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven, remove the racks above it, and heat to 375°F.
Season the chicken with the salt. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season inside and out with the salt. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine if desired. Set aside while the oven preheats and while you prepare the dressing ingredients.
Layer the bread, squash, and onions in the Dutch oven. Layer the bread cubes, squash, and thyme in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven. Make a sort of well in the center for the chicken to sit in.
Add the chicken and roast covered for 1 hour. Place the chicken in the well. Cover and roast for 1 hour.
Roast uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and tender. Uncover and continue to roast the chicken for another 30 minutes. The skin will become crisp and golden and the meat will be quite tender, like a rotisserie chicken. The juices should run clear and an oven thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh should be at least 165°F.
Rest the chicken for 15 minutes in the pot. Remove the pot from the oven and let the chicken rest uncovered for 15 minutes.
Carve and serve. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and carve. Serve with the dressing (bread and squash).
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.