Poached Roasted Chicken with Butternut Squash Anna
Portion/Yield:Serves 2 as a main course
We all love a good roast on a Sunday, but my main concern with roast chicken is that the meat can sometimes become dry if you are roasting the whole bird on the bone.
For my take on a classic roast chicken, I remove the legs from a large organic or free-range chicken and use them for another meal, then I’m simply left with the crown – basically this is just the breast meat on the bone. I then part-roast the chicken on the bone, and once this is done, I take the breasts off the bone and poach them in chicken stock until cooked. This ensures two moist and tender roasted chicken breasts with maximum flavour. This may sound a little complicated, but really it’s not at all.
I serve this delicious chicken with butternut squash Anna. Classically and traditionally, pommes Anna is a French dish made with layers of thinly sliced potatoes, melted butter and seasoning, oven-baked together in a dish. So, I use thinly sliced butternut squash instead of the potatoes to create my delicious seasonal twist for this lovely recipe (see also Cook’s Notes).
Ingredients & Method
For the butternut squash Anna
- 400g butternut squash flesh (peeled and deseeded weight) (see Cook’s Notes)
- 100g unsalted butter
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the roasted then poached chicken crown
- 1 chicken crown from a 1.6–1.8kg organic or free-range corn-fed chicken, skin left on
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 300ml white chicken stock
- a large sprig of fresh thyme
Make the butternut squash Anna first and leave them to cool while the chicken is cooking, then reheat them (alongside the chicken) before serving with the hot chicken.
For the butternut squash Anna, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Place four 6.5cm-high (4.5cm width) metal dariole moulds on a baking tray and set aside.
Thinly slice the squash into 2mm-thick slices (preferably using a mandolin), then use a 4cm round cutter to cut the squash into discs. Keep the trimmings to use for making a butternut squash purée for another dish or for a soup base.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until it starts to bubble, then remove from the heat. In a bowl, mix together the melted butter, squash discs and salt and pepper. Pour a teaspoon of the melted butter into each dariole mould, then divide the butternut discs between the 4 moulds, layering the slices in the moulds and packing them in until each mould is nearly full, then cover with the remaining melted butter. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until cooked all the way through and the tops are starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the butternut squash Anna cool in the moulds while you cook the chicken.
For the roasted chicken, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Season the chicken crown generously all over with salt and pepper. Heat the sunflower oil and butter in a large, non-stick frying pan until melted, then add the seasoned chicken crown to the pan, skin-side down, and cook over a high heat for 2–3 minutes on each breast or until the skin turns golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the chicken crown to a roasting tin. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Remember the chicken will only be partly cooked, but this is correct at this stage.
Remove the breasts from the bone, then place the 2 breasts, flesh-side down, in a deep roasting tin or casserole. (Reserve the carcass to make some stock later.) Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, then carefully pour it around the chicken so that it just covers the bottom of the roasting tin or casserole but doesn’t cover the skin of the chicken. Add the sprig of thyme. Return the chicken to the oven and cook for a further 18–20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and hot all the way through.
When you are ready to serve, reheat the butternut squash Anna in the oven for 8–10 minutes or until hot (reheat them at the same temperature and at the same time as the chicken is poaching so that they are then ready together). Meanwhile, drain the cooking juices from the chicken into a small pan, then bring the juices to the boil and boil over a high heat for about 5 minutes or until reduced slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The reduced juices can then be served as a light gravy with the chicken.
To serve, remove the butternut squash Anna from the oven and carefully turn them out on to a chopping board, drain off the excess butter, then carefully transfer them to serving plates. Serve the cooked chicken breasts alongside and serve with cooked Chantenay carrots and broccoli. Pour over the light gravy to taste and serve immediately.
When making the butternut squash Anna, take most of the flesh from the solid top part of the squash (which doesn’t contain any seeds) if you can, so that you can then easily cut it into nice round slices.
Traditionally, pommes Anna is made with potatoes. I have used butternut squash for this recipe as it cooks faster than potatoes, so you will need to adjust the cooking time if you choose to use potatoes or celeriac instead. Turnips, swede and carrots would also make lovely alternative Anna, but again you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.