Make a kind of garlic butter paste, with a lot of crushed garlic, maybe a whole bulb, not too much butter... OK, quite a bit of butter, and some olive oil, and a chicken stock cube. Some fresh herbs if you wish. Smush it all up with a fork; if it's hard to break down the cube, you can add a little hot water.
Keep some of the garlic cloves back and whole.
Chop up an onion, some shallots too if you like, or little onions you can keep whole. Fry the onion in some olive oil and/or bacon drippings. I always use up bacon drippings, we have bacon sandwiches at lunchtime on Sundays. Sue me or send the food police round, I don't care. You can start with some lardons (chopped streaky bacon) if you like. Oh yes, you have to do this in a big stove-top to oven iron pan, Dutch oven, le Creuset casserole thing, call it what you will. If you don't have one you'll have to adapt, but then it's no longer a one pot meal. You could even make it in a crockpot I suppose.
This recipe is very flexible, the main thing is the crushed garlic butter paste, which you then smear inside the cavity of the chicken, under its skin, anywhere really though perhaps not into you hangnails or any mucus membranes if you can help it. I always get it in my hangnails anyway, it's a winter recipe so the chances are I've got hangnails, I soon find out. And that you keep the chicken whole so the stuff oozes out through the flesh and skin.
When you've sautéd or if possible caramelised the onions quite a bit, put the thoroughly garlicated chicken into the pan and brown all sides.
While these things are happening, peel and chop some carrots and potatoes. Add these, and the whole peeled garlic cloves you've kept back, to the pan round the edges of the chicken which has now finished up breast up. Stir them around a bit, if some get inside the chicken - I have usually removed the string so the bird is very décontracté - so much the better.
When everything's nicely coated top it up with liquid, enough to cover the veg and most of the chicken. What liquid is up to you; the original recipe, for there was one, from a French country cookbook I borrowed from the library back in England, was a very basic affair and just called for water (and no stock cube either), but I use whatever comes to hand, chicken stock from the freezer, wine or cider (best to reduce these a bit), this time I poured in the remainder of some very louche looking home-made pommeau Paul at Kerbiriou sent us home with a couple of visits ago. Smells good anyway.*
Put the lid on the pan and let it really get bubbling hot through.
Transfer it to the oven, with the lid on, or if your lid isn't oven proof you could put foil over it. Leave it to cook, in which time you can wash up all the stuff, watch some telly, do a blog post, whatever. You can have the oven quite hot. It's a very forgiving dish and the longer you cook it the better, though if the chicken's falling apart too much it's a bit tricky to get it out to cut it up, or pull it apart rather.
Take the lid off for the last 15 minutes or so to brown it off a bit.
If you only have a stove top, this can be done entirely on that, though it really is better for an hour or so in the oven.
We eat it from great big soup bowls, quite deep ones; I ladle out the broth first, then the veg, and put the pieces of chicken on top. Tom likes breast and I like leg and so between the two of us we do the Jack Spratt thing.
You can use all kind of other veg in it too, root veg of any kind, and celery is very good. Potatoes are essential because they soak up all the flavours and become very voluptuous. I have done summer versions with tomatoes and peppers and stuff, but really that's a different dish, and I'd say avoid the temptation to put tomato in it; there is altogether too much tomato used in much everyday cookery, or there was. These days I don't buy a tin of tomatoes from one year's end to the next. As I say, it's a winter dish, and needs winter things in it.
If you don't like garlic... well, God bless you, as the song goes.
The oven has just pinged, and Tom is asking how much longer?
* and it was very good, I'm just finishing this after dinner.