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Chicken in the pot

Serves 6

1 large roasting chicken (4 to 5 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
2 medium onions, cut into eighths
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
Extra thyme sprigs (for garnish)
1. Dry the chicken and clean the cavity. Season the cavity and outside of the bird with salt and pepper. Tuck a sprig of thyme into the cavity. Use kitchen string to tie the legs of the chicken together.

2. In a heavy-based flameproof casserole that will hold the chicken, heat the oil. Brown the chicken on all sides, beginning with the breast. Set the bird on one side of the breast. Add the tomatoes and onions at the sides of the pan. Do not move the chicken until it releases easily from the pan or you'll tear the skin. When it's time to turn the chicken, use two wooden spoons. Turn the chicken to the other side, and finally onto its back. During cooking, the onions will brown and the tomatoes will collapse.

Notes:

3. Add the wine and water to the pan; bring it to a boil. Tuck the remaining thyme sprigs into the sides of the pan. Lower the heat and cover the pan. Let the liquid bubble very gently for 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees. Remove the pot from the heat. Use the spoons to transfer the chicken to a warm platter. Let it rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

4. Use kitchen shears to remove both legs from the chicken. Snip them to separate the thigh and legs and arrange them on a platter. Remove both wings, with a 2-inch piece of breast attached to each one. Cut the breast from the carcass. Halve the breast lengthwise and crosswise to make 4 small pieces. Add all of the chicken pieces to the platter. Remove the leaves from the extra thyme sprigs. Sprinkle them on the chicken.

5. Heat the cooking juices until boiling. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. In 6 deep plates, serve each person some of the chicken and plenty of the juices and vegetables spooned on top. Serve with crusty bread.

Sheryl Julian & Julie Riven

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