How To Make Potted Chicken

My first thought when I tasted this was, “This doesn’t taste like Italian to me. Maybe French.” Jenn agreed. But her father, Lou — whose mother and six sisters were all born in Italy — said, “No, that’s what Italian tasted like when I was growing up.”

I cook tomato sauce with beef or sausage in it all the time. I don’t usually do it with chicken. But this, the ingredients and the method, is exactly how Nana, Sentina, Coca, Josephine, Bertha, Nora and Perrina used to cook.


100901-165938_Lg1 whole chicken (~6 pounds)
½ cup all-purpose flour (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
3-4 slices thick-cut bacon
12 ounces crushed tomatoes (pictured can is 28 ounce)
2 tablespoons Italian herbs (oregano, chives, parsley, etc.)


Before you start, make sure the chicken is completely thawed inside and out. I’ve thawed chicken before only to find there were still ice crystals inside the cavity. And take out the bag with the innards. No, that’s not stuffing. (Oh, and pre-heat the oven to 300°.)

You could prep this on a cutting board, but it will be much easier (and less messy) in a big bowl. Trust me on this one.

Coat the chicken liberally all the way around with salt.


Then coat with flour, and pat to make sure it sticks. (Skip the flour if you’re on a low-carb diet.)

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Flip it over and do the other side.

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Stand the bird up and tap to knock off the excess.


A note about chicken: Always use one hand to handle the chicken, and the other hand to touch everything else. Don’t touch anything after you touch raw chicken.

In a French oven (Usually this is called a Dutch oven, but when it’s made by Le Creuset, it’s a French oven.) melt the butter over high heat.


Brown the chicken top and bottom.

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This should only take a minute or so per side.

Cover the breast with the bacon, pour the tomatoes around the sides, and add the herbs.

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No, I’m not being really specific about the herbs. I did oregano and chives because I had them in the garden, and parsley because I had some in the pantry.

Cook, covered, at 300° for one hour. But at 20 and 40 minutes, turn the chicken over. Take the bacon off and place back on top each time you turn it over.

Here’s the bottom at the first turn.


We could already tell this was going to be good.

After one hour it was looking almost good enough to eat.


See that tear in the skin? That’s where I grabbed it with the tongs to turn it over. Try sticking the tongs inside the cavity so the skin still looks nice.

Now, take off the bacon and cook uncovered until the breast starts to get crispy — about another 20 to 30 minutes.


Remove the chicken and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

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You want the temperature to equalize from the inside to the outside before you cut it. If it’s still hotter on the outside, it will squeeze out a lot of juice when you cut, which looks great in commercials but leaves you with dry chicken.

While the chicken is resting, skim the excess grease from the sauce.


Oh yeah, we’ll be using that.

Split the chicken into eight pieces: two each breast, thigh, leg and wing.

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Serve on top of pasta, or with the pasta on the side, with the sauce over it. If you’re on a low-carb diet, replace the pasta with garbanzo beans.



And that’s it.

Potted Chicken

Potted Chicken


  • 1 whole chicken (~6 pounds)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 12 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Italian herbs (oregano, chives, parsley, etc.)


Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Thaw the chicken and rinse thoroughly, inside and out. Pat dry. Coat liberally with kosher salt. Dust with flour all over. Melt butter over high heat in a dutch oven. Brown the chicken top and bottom in the butter. Remove from heat.

Mix together tomatoes and herbs. With chicken breast-side-up in the dutch oven, pour tomatoes around the sides. Arrange bacon on top of chicken breast.

Cook for 1 hour, covered. At 20 and 40 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the chicken over. Replace bacon on top after each turn. After one hour, remove the lid and the bacon and cook uncovered until the breast starts to get crispy - 20-30 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board and pour tomatoes into a serving bowl. While the chicken rests, skim excess fat off the sauce. After resting at least 10 minutes, cut chicken into 8 pieces - 2 each breast, thigh, leg, wing. Serve with pasta and reserved sauce.