Pot Roasting
Exercise Checklist:
1 Pot Roasted Chicken
  • 1 Whole Chicken, trussed
  • 3 cups Mirepoix, Medium Diced
  • 2 or 3 Sprigs Fresh Oregano
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh Thyme
  • Salt (To Taste)
  • Black Pepper (To Taste)
Tools & Equipment
  • Sheet Pan lined with Parchment Paper
  • Large Sauce Pot with Lid
  • Wire Roasting Rack
  • Baster (or Large Spoon or Medium-Sized Ladle)
  • Kitchen Towel or Pot Holders/Oven Mitts
  • Kitchen Tongs
  • Instant Read Thermometer
  • Large Plate
  • Butchers Twine
  • Cutting Board
  • Chefs Knife
  • Measuring Cup

In this exercise we’ll be focusing on "Pot Roasting," which is a cooking technique, that is frequently misunderstood. Usually the misunderstanding stems from confusion with two other cooking techniques: Stewing and BraisingOther times the confusion arises from thinking that only a specific, tough Portion Cut of Beef can be called "Pot Roast." As with the term “London Broil,” butchers can be very creative in their attempts to improve their profits by adding the name “Pot Roast” to almost any of the less desirable, tougher cuts of beef.

To make sure that we “steer” you away from all the easy and obviously confusing wrinkles, Teaching Chef will demonstrate proper Pot Roasting (the cooking technique) by Pot Roasting a Chicken, in the oven. With a minimal amount of focused attention, he will make a very flavorful bird. We love cooking techniques that require very little management but turn out great tasting product because they leave the chef free to do other work.

For most Americans, our first thought when we hear the term “pot roast” is Granny’s familiar, beefy specialty, cooked slowly in a broth-like liquid. We may not know that her beloved (or was that dreaded?) dinner could also have other names, depending on your ancestry, such as "Yankee Pot Roast," "New England Pot Roast," "Boeuf à la Mode (France)" or even "Sauerbraten (Germany)."

The only reason we even mention this is to help you build a complete repertoire of cooking techniques. If the mental slot in your mind marked “Pot Roast” is filled with incorrect information, there won’t be room for the classic traditional Pot Roasting technique that we want to share with you.

The original technique comes from Careme and Escoffier’s golden age of European cuisine and is a Dry Heat Method of cooking that is exactly what the name says: Roasting food in the oven in a covered, oven-safe pot.

Pot Roasting = Roasting Food in a Covered Oven-Safe Pot?

There is a bit more to it. The food product is generally placed on a Roasting Rack in the pot over a Mirepoix. The tightly covered pot is set in an oven at Medium Heat for anywhere from 30-60 minutes. The product is Basted frequently (every 20 minutes or so) with the Fat and Jus that accumulate in the bottom of the hot pot. No extra liquid or fat are added when cooking a true Pot Roast.

For the rest of this exercise, and for that matter anywhere on Smart Kitchen, Pot Roasting means “Roasting Food in a Covered, Oven-Safe Pot.”

Now that we know what Pot Roasting is, and is not, what sort of items are good choices for this technique? In our book it is Tender, Thick, Moist products that don’t require much "Low & Slow Tenderizing. You don’t want to Crisp, Brown or Caramelize. Whether the product is Fatty or Lean is less important because both Fatty and Lean products can be cooked by Pot Roasting.

Because you're roasting on a rack inside a covered pot at Medium Heat, Conduction won’t be hitting your product quiet as forcefully. And the product’s own internal moisture released by cooking heat will stay in the pot and Steam the food. This means that the cooked food will retain more of its own natural flavors and that Pot Roasting is a great choice for items that you fear may dry out too much during an Oven Roasting. Pot Roasting is also a good choice when you are cooking product that you plan to use in other dishes. See Pulling Poultry for examples of ways that Teaching Chef would be likely to use the meat from a Pot Roasted Chicken.

With some of the facts covered, let’s join Teaching Chef in the Instructional Video.

For his Mise en Place, Teaching Chef has gathered the following ingredients: a Whole Chicken, Mirepoix, sprigs of fresh Oregano and Thyme, Salt and Black Pepper.

For equipment he will use a Sheet Pan lined with parchment paper, large Sauce Pot (with a Lid), Roasting Rack, Baster (use a Ladle or Large Spoon if you don’t have a Baster), Kitchen Towel or Pot Holders, Kitchen Tongs (optional), and thermometer.

Teaching Chef chose a pot that has enough room for the whole Chicken and space for the lid to close easily above it, and a roasting rack that fits well inside the pot. Before the video begins, he Trussed the chicken to help it hold together while it cooks, diced the Vegetables to a Parmentier. The vegetables, will fit easily under the wire roasting rack and tied the Herbs together with Butcher’s Twine, cut this way. He has preheated the oven to 350° F (177° C).

Teaching Chef takes a minute to describe the whole process of Pot Roasting. The chicken will be cooked in a medium temperature oven, on a rack over the mirepoix vegetables in the covered pot. As it cooks, the chicken will give off Fat and juices which he will use to Baste (every 20 minutes). He will cook the chicken to a Pull Temperature™ (an internal temperature) of 155º - 160° F (68º - 71° C).  Once it is out of the oven the Carry-Over Cooking will continue to cook the bird to a Final Cooking Temperature of between 160º - 165° F (71º - 74° C), which yields a moist but safely cooked chicken.

Teaching Chef starts his active phase by preparing the pot for the oven. He adds the mirepoix vegetables to the bottom of the pot under the roasting rack.

Next, he places the chicken on the sheet pan lined with parchment paper to aid in his cleanup and to avoid Cross-Contamination while he works with it. Teaching Chef seasons the Chicken, by placing Oregano and Thyme in the body and by adding a little salt and pepper to the exterior. He sprinkles the salt and pepper from a good height above the Chicken, to season the poultry evenly.

The seasoned Chicken goes onto the roasting rack, breast-side up, before he covers the pot with the lid and puts the pot in the oven. Teaching Chef then cleans up his work station, a step made easier by using the sheet pan and parchment paper.

After 20 minutes cooking time, Teaching Chef bastes the Chicken for the first of 3-4 identical bastings. To baste the Chicken, Teaching Chef will remove the pot from the oven and place it on the oven door. If you’re not sure your oven door is strong enough to hold a heavy pot, place the hot pot on top of the stove or another heat-proof surface. When Teaching Chef removes the lid, very hot steam will come rushing out. He is careful, each and every time, to tilt the lid away from his face and body and to keep well back from the pot.

Because it is still early in the cooking process, the chicken hasn’t given off much fat or juices for basting.  To collect as much of the Jus as he can, Teaching Chef tilts the pot (again, holding onto the handle with a kitchen towel or pot holder) so the juices gather in one corner. He uses an industrial strength baster to collect the liquid. If you don’t have a good baster, you can use a large spoon or a ladle to spoon up the juices. After basting the Chicken, he re-covers the pot and places the pot back in the oven, to continue cooking.

After another 20 minutes, Teaching Chef comes back and bastes the Chicken a second time. This time a lot more juices (fond) and fat have accumulated in the bottom of the pot and they are much easier to collect. He covers the whole chicken liberally a few times with the liquid to moisten all of the exterior.

At about the 1 hour mark, Teaching Chef believes that there is a chance that the Chicken may be getting close to done. When he goes to baste the Chicken for the third time, he brings his thermometer along to check.

To get an accurate reading of the internal temperature of the Chicken, he places the thermometer deep into the joint between a chicken leg and the breast. Although it’s called “instant” or “fast read” the thermometer actually needs a few seconds to take a temperature reading. When he tests it, Teaching Chef finds the Chicken is actually cooked to 165° F (74° C), which is a little more than he wanted. The carry-over cook time will raise it another 5 degrees to about 170° F (77° C), or slightly less than perfect. Some chefs actually prefer to cook their Chicken 5 degrees more than we do at Smart Kitchen, so this is still a more than acceptable final temperature.

With the Roasting step completed, Teaching Chef moves the pot back to his work surface. His next task is getting the cooked and very tender chicken out of the pot and onto a plate without having it break apart. He uses a large pair of tongs to maneuver the Chicken. He inserts one arm of the tongs into the Chicken’s cavity and lightly (without breaking the Skin) closes the second arm of the tongs so he can get a good grip on the bird. He then picks up the Chicken, tilting it so any juices that have accumulated in the body cavity run out before moving it to the plate. He places the Chicken on the plate and carefully removes the tongs, using his free hand (protected by a kitchen towel) to hold the Chicken steady as it comes to rest safely on the plate. Allow the Chicken to Rest, for about 5-10 minutes, before doing anything else with it.

Once cool enough to handle, you can Carve or Pull it. You can also use the Chicken in other ways; such as in a Casserole, Sandwich, Bound Salad, Fresh Salad or to enhance a Soup or Stew.