I call this recipe Applejack chicken as a flavor tribute, not because I use hard cider to make it...though maybe I will try that at some point. The deglazing and cooking liquid contains apple juice, which is then concentrated to make a sauce...ending up with one yummy apple-flavored chicken! I also have another great grilled chicken recipe that involves a delicious marinade, so you might check that out, too!
Here we go:
1 whole chicken, cleaned, giblets removed
3 pieces of maple flavored bacon (I like the thick cut)
1 large yellow onion diced
3 carrots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 cups apple juice
2 cups water
2 T fennel seed
4 bay leaves
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat, add a drizzle of olive oil. While heating, cut bacon into half inch segments, drop into pan. Cook bacon until crisp, remove and drain on paper towel. The sugar from the maple bacon can burn more easily, so keep an eye out for potential bacon-cooking drama.
Once bacon is removed, add onion, carrots and fennel seeds. Saute for a few minutes, then add apple juice and bay leaves. Let the pan deglaze while you are preparing the chicken.
If you haven't already, take a couple of paper towels and pat the chicken dry...makes for easier chicken wrangling. Next, separate the skin of the breast from the meat by gently sliding your hand between the two. Try not to break the skin. When you are finished, there will be a pocket between the two. Next, take the bacon pieces and sliced garlic and slip it into this pocket. Try to spread it evenly. Once you are finished, pull the skin closed, anchoring with a toothpick or two.
Give the mixture in the Dutch oven a stir, then place the chicken right on top. Add enough water to bring the fluid level up to the middle of the drumsticks. Bring to a boil, add lid and pop into the oven for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, remove lid and baste chicken with juices. Cook chicken for an additional 45 minutes with the lid removed, basting every 15 minutes. **Your cooking time will vary dependent upon the size of the chicken. The meat in the thickest part of the thigh should register 165 to 170 degrees.
When chicken is done, remove from pan for carving. Place pan on the stove over high heat to reduce cooking liquid for sauce. If you like, you can first pour the liquid into a gravy separater, which will help remove excess oil. Serve chicken with sauce drizzled over the top.