Goose the flavor of chicken

Madeira is a key ingredient of this braised chicken.
Madeira is a key ingredient of this braised chicken. The Associated Press

Chicken in a pot. Not a very romantic name. Luckily, the French have the more melodic “poule au pot” to fill that gap for this utterly delicious dish.

Chef Sara Moulton has taken this French dish to Morocco, adding ginger and harissa, a hot chili paste from Africa. She serves it with country bread, toasted and rubbed with garlic, though the chicken and vegetables can be ladled onto couscous instead. This is a great dish to serve to a crowd.

Did you know that “chicken” was Google’s No. 1 recipe search word in 2014? Here are two more chicken recipes you don’t have to search for: J.M. Hirsch’s braised chicken and Melissa d’Arabian’s chicken in quick mole sauce

Hirsch says the braised chicken gets a ton of flavor by cooking in Madeira, a fortified wine from Portugal. He likes to use split breasts, which are large and meaty and sport extra flavor from cooking with the bone and skin intact. You also could use chicken thighs.

Mexican mole is a thick, spicy sauce based on cocoa or chocolate that traditionally takes a couple of days to develop its rich flavors. D’Arabian developed a version of mole that takes under an hour. Does it capture all the flavor of a two-day mole? Nope, she says. “But for a recipe that shaves 47 hours off my labor, I think it still does a pretty darned good job.”

Madeira-braised chicken with mushroom gravy

Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes (15 minutes active)

Serves 4

Need to stretch out the cooking time? Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and add a cup of water to the braising liquid. You should be good for an extra hour.


1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

4 split chicken breasts halves (31/2 pounds total), bone in and skin on

8 ounces button mushrooms

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups Madeira wine

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

Salt and ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until nicely browned, 3 to 5 minutes. If necessary, brown the chicken in batches. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown and release their liquid. Return the chicken to the pot, add the Madeira and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, place in the oven and let cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, remove the pot from the oven and transfer the chicken to a plate. Cover with foil and several kitchen towels. Ladle the remaining braising liquid and any solids in the pot into a blender. In a small glass, stir together the cornstarch and water, then add to the blender. Purée until smooth.

Return the gravy to the pot and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Serve each piece of chicken drizzled with gravy.

Per serving: 810 calories; 300 calories from fat; 33 g fat (9 g sat.; 0 g trans fats); 205 mg chol.; 27 g carb.; 1 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 68 g protein; 700 mg sodium.

Moroccan chicken in a pot

Start to finish: 1 hour 50 minutes (50 minutes active)

Serves 8


For the harissa:

One 16-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the chicken:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

One 3 1/2-pound whole chicken

3 quarts chicken broth

1 pound carrots

1/2 pound parsnips

1/2 pound turnips

1/2 pound white potatoes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, to garnish


To prepare the harissa, in a blender combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Set aside. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

To prepare the chicken, in a 7- to 8-quart stockpot over medium, heat the oil. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the chicken, breast side down, then pour the broth over it. The broth should cover the chicken. If not, add a bit of water or additional broth.

Bring the broth just to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, skimming any scum that comes to the surface, for 10 minutes.

Cover and reduce the heat to simmer gently for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chicken sit in the hot broth, covered, for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and set it on a plate. Let it cool until it can be easily handled.

Peel the carrots, parsnips, turnips and potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the broth, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the vegetables are just tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pull off and discard the skin from the chicken and remove the meat from the bones in large chunks. When the vegetables are tender, return the chicken meat to the pot and cook gently, just until heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into soup bowls and top each portion with a spoonful of harissa and some cilantro.

Chicken in quick mole sauce

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Serves 4


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo (more or less according to heat preference)

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/2 cup prune juice (or 1/4 cup chopped pitted prunes)

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Squeeze of lime (1 to 2 teaspoons)

Fresh cilantro, chopped, to serve


Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the chicken and brown until golden on all sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, then cook, stirring, until very fragrant, another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let cook for 3 more minutes. Add the chipotles, orange zest and prune juice, then cook an additional minute, stirring.

Add the stock and let simmer until the onion is fairly soft, about 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Pour or spoon carefully into a blender, then add the almond butter, chocolate and lime juice. Let sit for a minute in the hot liquid. Blend carefully – low at first, then at higher speed – until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Add more stock if the sauce is too thick.

Return the chicken to the pan (no need to clean it) and pour the sauce over the chicken. Heat over medium until the chicken is cooked through, another 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with rice, beans and cilantro.

Per serving: 430 calories; 190 from fat; 21 g fat (7 g sat., 0 g trans); 105 mg chol.; 26 g carb.; 6 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 39 g protein; 690 mg sodium.