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Pastry-Wrapped Chicken with Vegetable Stuffing

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Serves 4 to 6

  • by Barbara Lynch from Fine Cooking
    Issue 122

Chicken stuffed with aromatic vegetables and wrapped in a buttery bread-like crust, known as “poulet au pain” in France, is the ultimate comfort food. As it bakes, the dough becomes golden and flaky, perfect for eating along with the tender meat and vegetables. It's a bit reminiscent of chicken pot pie.

Video: Watch a step-by-step demonstration of how to wrap the chicken.

  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole chicken (about 3-1/2 lb.)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tbs. water

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt. Add the butter and mix on low speed, stopping the mixer occasionally to break up bigger chunks of butter with your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a pastry cutter or your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients.) Add 1/2 cup water and continue mixing (or stir with a fork) until the dough begins to come together, about 1 minute more. Turn the mixer off, scrape the dough off the paddle, and switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium-low speed (or by hand) until it comes together in a mass, 1 to 2 minutes (longer by hand).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead it briefly until it feels smooth and elastic. If the dough is very sticky, add a little more flour.

Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-duty 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion, rosemary, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are just tender but not colored, about 8 minutes. Let cool.

Remove the giblets from the chicken and discard or save for another use. Pat the chicken dry and trim away any excess fat. Cut off the first two joints of the wings and discard or save for another use. Season the chicken liberally inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the vegetables inside the cavity and tie the legs together with kitchen string.

On a very lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 1/8-inch-thick, 18x13-inch rectangle. (If the dough shrinks back, let it rest for a few minutes at room temperature, then roll again.) Put the chicken on the dough breast side down and wrap the dough around the bird, overlapping the edges. If there is a lot of overlap, trim the dough. Pinch the seams together to seal them. Turn the bird over and put it seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Gently mold the dough over the contours of the chicken to delineate its shape.

Brush the tops and sides of the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt.

Bake the chicken until the pastry is golden-brown (if it’s browning too much, tent it loosely with foil) and an instant-read thermometer inserted through the crust and into the breast registers 160°F, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Let cool for at least 1 hour (the chicken will still be quite warm after 1 hour) and up to 3 hours before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To carve the chicken, crack into the crust with a knife and carve away pieces of the chicken, starting with the breast. Serve the chicken with some of the crust and the vegetable stuffing.

Make Ahead Tips

You can wrap the chicken in dough up to 1 day ahead; wrap it in parchment and refrigerate. Brush with egg wash just before baking.

You can let the fully baked chicken rest at room temperature for up to 3 hours before serving (though the meat and vegetables will be closer to room temperature after resting this long).

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 790; Fat (g): 45; Fat Calories (kcal): 400; Saturated Fat (g): 20; Protein (g): 41; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): 52; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 6; Sodium (mg): 600; Cholesterol (mg): 195; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This was delicious! I made it as written except I added some fennel and parsnips to the vegetable stuffing. The chicken stayed moist and the stuffing was so good. My seventeen year old son loves chicken-pot-pie, he loved this dish! (Much better than any "frozen box" food trash from the store) It was actually easy to make, and I will make it again, and looks pretty enough for company!

I made this exactly as the recipe was written. The chicken was moist, the vegetables 'to die for' and the crust crisp. It would be great for company or a weekend meal. I will make this again, and SOON.

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