Three years later, this dish hasn’t changed: it’s still wonderful, and apparently still being made with chickens that needed using up yesterday. Luckily for us all, my photography has changed for the better.
Yes, I know ramp season has officially passed us by, what with the overabundance of lush, leafy green that is dressing the Northeast woods right now. However, I still had an (albeit fairly limp) bunch of ramps in the fridge that were just begging to be used, and a Kosher chicken with a sell-by date of yesterday. So much of my cooking goes this way: stuff in the fridge is on the verge of going bad and I need to use it, now. Sometimes this makes for rather odd combinations; sometimes it makes for brilliant discoveries. Tonight’s braised chicken falls squarely into the latter camp: brilliant and delicious.
For the method, I adapted the technique from Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk recipe to brown the chicken skin prior to braising. Be patient with this step: it takes a good 15 minutes or so to really get the skin nice & crispy, but it makes all the difference in the finished chicken, delivering succulent, falling-off-the-bone meat, rich with flavor and braising juices, and crispy, crackly, golden chicken skin. The best of both worlds!
This turned out to be quite a fabulous dish: relatively easy to prepare, fairly quick (my chicken was done after 40 minutes of convection roasting), and very flavorful. The reduction sauce was out of this world: it makes me wish I had tried this at the beginning of ramp season instead of the (bitter) end. If you are lucky enough to still have ramps in your neck of the woods, I highly recommend this one.
- one 3 – 4 lb roaster chicken
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 large bunch ramps (about 15 – 20 ramps), washed well, trimmed and chopped (reserve one or two fresh ramps for garnish, if you like)
- zest and juice from 1 lemon (Meyer lemon adds a nice, floral sweetness here)
- 6 large cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- Wash chicken (or not, as you wish) and dry well. Sprinkle skin liberally with salt & pepper. If you think of it, do this 24 hours prior to cooking and allow to air-dry in the refrigerator for the crispiest skin. If not, allow to sit, unwrapped, at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (350 degrees F convection). Heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or casserole with a tight-fitting lid, one that will fit the chicken snugly, until foam subsides and the oil is shimmering, but not smoking. Add the chicken and fry, turning on all sides, until the skin is crispy and golden, about 15 minutes (use two sturdy wooden spatulas to turn the chicken without tearing the skin).
- Remove chicken to a clean plate and pour off all but 3 tbsp of the fat (reserve for another use). Add the wine and scrape the fond off the bottom of the pot. Return chicken to the pot: add the stock, ramps, garlic, lemon juice & zest. Bring liquid to a boil, cover pot and braise in the preheated oven until the internal temperature at the thigh is at least 165 degrees F, about 1 hour. Remove the lid from the pot, raise the oven temperature to broil, and crisp the chicken skin lightly, for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the oven, transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes prior to carving. In the meantime, bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce until thickened, about 10 minutes. Carve the chicken and serve with mashed potatoes, pasta or grains. Top with hot reduction sauce and garnish with fresh slivered ramps.
Serves 4 – 6.
- Why add 3 tbsp each of butter & olive oil only to pour most of it off, you say? Good question. I’ve used this technique several times now, and I’ve found that this is the minimum amount of fat to add that will still be enough to nicely fry the skin of the chicken; if you add less, the chicken skin does not brown evenly, but burns in some spots while staying unbrowned in others. The reserved, poured-off fat is lovely in mashed potatoes, a frittata or a chicken stew.
- This is an easily adaptable recipe: when ramps are not in season, try shallots with fresh sage, tiny Cippollini onions with thyme or summer savory, or green garlic with a touch of rhubarb for zing.
- Please: ensure that your ramps are harvested sustainably, or if hunting for them yourself, forage responsibly.
Refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Ramps are in season in the Northeast in early Spring.