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Cooking whole vs cut-up chicken

Re your Chicken en Cocotte recipe: why not cut the chicken into pieces (e.g., thighs, breasts, wings, etc.) 1st? In fact, why not purchase and cook the pieces one likes vs a whole chicken?


  • Hi Howard - the classic French recipe, Poulet en Cocotte, is a whole chicken roasted in a small, covered Dutch oven (a cocotte) that essentially cooks in it's own juices which, in turn, become a very flavorful sauce. You can also find a similar version of this recipe in the South Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan). In both regions it's always been made with a whole chicken. The idea was to provide an easy, economical dinner for the family. Whole chickens were and are widely available (most countries still don't sell chicken parts) and, even here in the U.S., are much less expensive per pound than cut-up parts. I make this recipe a lot at the end of a busy day and I'm grateful to be able to just throw the whole chicken in the pot to start cooking while I help with homework or shuttle my daughter to a dance class, leaving my husband to keep an eye on the pot. Another benefit -you can use the cooked leftover carcass and the giblets to make a super flavorful stock. My favorite thing about this recipe is that it offers endless opportunities for variation in both the spices on the chicken and the sauce ingredients. Thanks for writing to us! Best, Lynn C.

  • I get all of that, Lynne. Because we "don't do wings, backs or drumsticks" -- just bone-in thighs and split breasts that I buy from a wonderful local free range farm -- I plan to make the recipe with 4 ea. thighs and split breasts. So, simply stated, is the "whole chicken" greater than the sum of its parts?

  • Hi Howard - Since we only tested this recipe with whole chickens, I can't give you specific times or techniques for using chicken parts. What I can say is that I am confident it will take less time to cook than a whole chicken. I would suggest temping the chicken after about 30 minutes of cooking time to gauge where it is and how much longer it may need. I also think the parts will not release as much liquid as a whole chicken so you may not have as much liquid to reduce for the sauce and, therefore, the flavor won't be as concentrated. As an alternative, you may like our sheet pan roasted chicken recipe, which calls for chicken parts. It also offers endless variation and a sauce made in the pan. Best, Lynn

  • Makes sense, Lynn. I think I'll try it both ways and let you know which works best.

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