Vinegar Roast Chicken

Poulet au Vinagre, or vinegar chicken, is a famous Paul Bocuse recipe. A genius, genius recipe. His features tomatoes, which serves as a great acidic counterpoint to the vinegar.

Before I knew that this was in fact a world-famous concept of his, I cooked up a recipe for vinegar chicken years ago, found somewhere on Pinterest when I would spend hours a day pinning other bloggers’ posts.

Because this has the right elements, this roast chicken realizes the vinegar sauce from my memory. And I’ve regularly been making vinegar-y chicken, usually served with basmati rice, ever since.

I love vinegar. And brine. Pickled, salty anything and everything. By a quick scan of the recipes I post here, that’s pretty obvious. The reason I’m telling you this? To reinforce that if you like the same flavor profiles I do, trust me, this recipe will scratch your proverbial itch for vinegar.

I recently heard from someone on a health kick who said that they started adding vinegar to chicken and other saucy, red meat-based dishes. It’s a flavor booster, much like adding spices. It seems like vinegar does something to bolster protein, almost making them taste more calorie-heavy than they actually are.

I think that’s what this sauce does. It’s one of those “magic” sauces. The honey, garlic, chicken stock, tomato paste, butter and vinegar all condense down to this perfect combination of sweet, sour, salty and garlicky. With an added emphasis on the sour. Take out the butter, and I’m pretty sure it would be just as damn good.

Alas. This blog isn’t about leaving out the butter. Not here. This place is holy ground as far as butter is concerned, and I’m planning on keeping it that way.

With this relatively simply-prepared chicken and buttered rice, you really get a taste for the sauce. You will end up spooning more and more of it over additional helpings. Or at least I do.

Do you cook any meat-based recipes that have vinegar as a secret ingredient? I’d love to hear about them!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 4 to 5 lb. chicken, giblets removed
  • 1 1 / 2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 3 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bulb garlic, plus 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 / 2 large yellow onion, small diced
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature, salted or unsalted
  • Lemon slices, for garnish
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups water, plus 1 cup
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Take the chicken out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pat the skin dry, including the cavity, with a paper towel.
  3. After an hour, sprinkle the cavity liberally with salt and pepper, and put a garlic bulb, cut in half lengthwise, in the cavity of the chicken. Truss the chicken legs with kitchen twine, and tuck the wings under the body of the chicken.
  4. Take 1 / 2 stick of softened butter, and rub all over the chicken. Slide your hands under the skin on either side of each breast, making sure to coat the top breast meat with the softened butter as well. Heavily sprinkle the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  5. In the meantime, heat the red wine vinegar, tomato paste, chicken stock or broth, 1 cup water, honey, minced garlic and diced onion over simmering heat for 5 minutes or so, until reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Nestle the chicken in a small pan, barely big enough to hold the chicken. Pour the sauce in the pan around the chicken (not on top of the chicken), put lemon slices down the spine of the chicken, if desired, and place in the oven. Roast the chicken for 1 hour to 1 hour & 30 minutes, until the temperature of the chicken reaches 165* or you cut the groove between the leg and the breast and the juices run clear.
  7. In the meantime, run the rice under cold water in a sieve for a few minutes to remove extra starch. Put the rice in a small saucepan with 4 cups water, and simmer on medium heat until al dente consistency, about 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the rice cooking instructions. Strain, return the rice to the pot, and add the remaining half of the stick of butter, stirring until melted. Set aside covered with a lid to keep warm until serving.
  8. Remove the chicken from the pan, turning the chicken upside down to allow any remaining juices to pour out of the cavity. Carve the chicken using Julia Child’s technique (carving starts at about 26:00). Retain the lemon slices and garlic bulb for garnish on the serving platter, if desired.
  9. Pour the roasting pan sauce into a pourable serving dish. Serve the chicken on a platter family style alongside a serving bowl of the buttered basmati rice.

Apple Cider Roast Chicken

Ina Garten is famous for her roast chickens, especially the ones she makes each Friday for Jeffrey when he comes home for the weekend. I love that about her. When you see how she prepares the chicken, it’s incredibly simple. I have rarely seen her use anything beyond salt, pepper, olive oil, a bulb of garlic cut in half and stuffed inside the cavity, with some potatoes or lemons in the pan. With that many roast chickens under her belt, I have to assume she knows something we don’t.

Her Roast Engagement Chicken for example is perfectly simple – and completely encapsulates her style of cooking.

There’s really not too much work that goes into roasting a chicken – it’s something you can do without reading a recipe. Ruth Reichl recently posted a tweet illustrating exactly how simple roast chicken can and should be:

Just roasted a fresh Kinderhook Farm chicken.  Did nothing – put it into a hot oven. Best chicken I’ve ever tasted.

While this roast chicken calls for a slew of ingredients, it’s really up to you which spices to include. I went for a series of warm, autumn spice flavors. The apple cider works here the same way applesauce goes so well with pork.

I love allspice, cloves and star anise. Some folks don’t like the licorice flavor of star anise – so I’d encourage them to leave it out.

If you do like this combination of flavors – know that if you fill a shallow pan with simmering water and add a splash of vanilla, along with a handful of these spices, your kitchen is going to smell like autumn bliss for hours. I do this every so often and it puts me in a cozy cold weather mood.

There’s wiggle room with the vegetables as well – parsnips, sweet potatoes or other autumn root vegetables would be delicious. Just make sure you keep a savory element, allium vegetables like garlic and onions help offset the sweetness of the cider, cinnamon and vanilla.

Happy roasting, friends! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 4 to 5 lb. fresh chicken, giblets removed
  • 1 stick room temperature butter, salted or unsalted
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 – 3 inch pieces
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, cut into 2 – 3 inch pieces
  • 1 small white onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup pearl onions, peeled and parboiled
  • 2 cups apple cider, plus 4 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon allspice (not ground)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus additional as needed
  • 1 tablespoon pepper, plus additional as needed
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Take the chicken out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pat the skin dry, including the cavity, with a paper towel.
  3. After an hour, sprinkle the cavity liberally with salt and pepper, and put the quartered onions inside. Truss the chicken legs with kitchen twine.
  4. Combine the butter, 4 tablespoons apple cider, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Gently loosen the top layer of the skin above each of the breasts with your fingers, and evenly distribute 1 / 3 of the butter mixture under each half of the chicken. Place one cinnamon stick under each half as well. Then rub the remaining 1 / 3 of the butter mixture over the rest of the chicken.
  5. Stud the top of the chicken with the cloves, and dot with star anise down the spine of the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with approximately 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Toss the carrots, pearl onions, and potatoes with enough olive oil to moisten and a large pinch of salt and a larch pinch of pepper.
  7. Place the vegetables in the bottom of the pan. Pour the 2 cups of cider into the pan with the vegetables. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables.
  8. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes per pound – periodically removing the chicken from the oven and basting it with the cider juices from the bottom of the pan, approximately 2 to 3 times while cooking.
  9. To test the doneness of the chicken, cut the groove between the leg and the breast, and if the liquids run clear, the chicken is done. Or, wait until the chicken breast reads *165 on a kitchen thermometer.
  10. To serve the chicken, remove the star anise cinnamon sticks, and carve using Julia Child’s technique (carving starts at about 26:00). If you want a thicker sauce for serving, remove the pan juices to a saucepan, and simmer until it thickens to desired consistency.
  11. Plate the vegetables, juices and all, with the chicken presented on top.