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The Secret to Cooking a Whole Chicken in a Dutch Oven

- Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Mary Beth Wetzel
Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Mary Beth Wetzel

Elevate that bird.

A Dutch oven is just the right size and shape to cook a whole chicken. Simply cover the pot with its lid during the first part of the cooking process to make the meat fall-apart tender and juicy. Then, remove the lid during the end of the cook time to make the skin golden and crisp. It’s practically foolproof.

But there is one way to make this cooking method even better—add a layer of hearty vegetables to the bottom of the pot before you add the chicken. Potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, parsnips, celery root, beets, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes are all good options.

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The vegetables serve two purposes: they elevate the chicken, which helps it cook more evenly. (No more soggy bottomed birds!) And it also creates a built-in side dish so you’ll have a complete meal in one pot. And those aren’t just ordinary roasted vegetables, they are vegetables roasted in chicken fat, AKA the tastiest vegetables around.

Cut the vegetables into uniform pieces so that they cook evenly, coat them with olive or vegetable oil, and season generously with salt and pepper, then arrange them on the bottom of the pot. Nestle the chicken on top, and make sure the lid of the pot still fits when placed on top. As the dutch oven chicken and vegetables cook, stir the vegetables around every so often so that they caramelize on all sides and soak in those delicious drippings.

Best of all, this trick also works whether the chicken is whole or has been cut into pieces. And while we love the oven-to-table ease of a Dutch oven, you can try this trick even if you’re cooking the chicken on a sheet pan, cast-iron skillet, or a slow cooker.

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