This is a toque-worthy day in our French Fridays with Dorie world. With this week’s mouthwatering recipe, our group will have literally cooked-the-book. The cookbook is “Around My French Table, more than 300 recipes from my home to yours” by the incomparable Dorie Greenspan. What began in October 2010 with Gougères, those exquisite pâte à choux pastry puffs flavored with Gruyère cheese, is ending with Chicken in a Pot, the Garlic and Lemon version. So happens, it’s featured on AMFT’s cover.

Chicken in a Pot - the veggies are prepared and then tossed in a large skillet for a sauté.

Chicken in a Pot – the veggies are prepared and then tossed in a large skillet for a sauté.

To observe this remarkable milestone I planned an intimate dinner to acknowledge another remarkable milestone, a very special birthday. However, there were some caveats:

1. Since Chicken in a Pot is not a particularly simple recipe, I would need sous chef assistance.

2. Once fully cooked, the seal on the Chicken in a Pot needs to be broken with a screwdriver!

3. Like many occasions at my table, this would be a Lights on Bright blog post. Wear lipstick.

4. Having never made this recipe before, it might be a disaster. My back-up choice, frozen pizza.

After the chicken is browned on all sides, it joins its veggie friends for a roast in the oven.

After the chicken is browned on all sides, it joins its veggie friends for a roast in the oven.

I called my friend, Charlotte McLain, and asked if she and the birthday boy, her husband, Michael, were free for dinner. I explained we would be cooking the cover recipe of my AMFT cookbook. Besides being a professional musician, Charlotte is an extraordinary chef. She happily accepted my invite. We made a plan.

The homemade dough is  rolled out, stretched into a long rope and secured around the pot. To save time, I used fresh pizza dough from Whole Foods.

The homemade dough is rolled out, stretched into a long rope and secured around the pot. To save time, I used fresh pizza dough from Whole Foods.

Charlotte mixed together a red cabbage, kale, broccoli, raisins and nuts slaw.

Charlotte mixed together a red cabbage, kale, broccoli, raisins and nuts slaw.

Eventually I explained the screwdriver thing to her, suggesting that I hoped the pot wouldn’t blow when the seal was broken. She chuckled, kinda. We decided, at tool time, Michael would be in charge. Her husband, a Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, is a fun guy and a very good sport.



Michael Hirsch's old, old screwdriver, sterilzed and embellished.

Michael Hirsch’s old, old screwdriver, sterilzed and embellished.

Our unforgettable evening, one for the memory book, can best be told through photos. Michael insisted on choosing a superb wine and brought his last bottle of 2005 Willenborg Pinot Noir. The birthday dessert was Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake, my favorite Dorie/AMFT sweet treat. The recipe for the chicken is below. I’ve linked to the apple cake recipe.

To be truthful, Michael and Charlotte are a little apprehensive.

To be truthful, Michael and Charlotte are a little apprehensive.

Not knowing what was going to happen, do you notice something missing. Glasses, perhaps?

Not knowing what was going to happen, do you notice something missing. Glasses, perhaps?

Michael is rethinking being a good sport. Charlotte just steps back.

Michael is rethinking being a good sport. Charlotte just steps back.

C'est Manifique.

C’est Manifique.


Chicken in a Pot, the Garlic and Lemon version.

Chicken in a Pot, the Garlic and Lemon version.

IMG_0048 (1)


Serves 6 – 8


½ preserved lemon, rinsed well

1 cup water

¼ cup sugar

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and each cut into 8 same-sized pieces (you can use white potatoes, if you prefer)

16 small white onions, yellow onions, or shallots

8 carrots, trimmed, peeled, and quartered

4 celery stalks, trimmed, peeled, and quartered

4 garlic heads, cloves separated but not peeled 

Salt and freshly ground pepper

3 thyme sprigs

3 parsley sprigs

2 rosemary sprigs

1 chicken, about 4 pounds, preferably organic, whole or cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature 

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup dry white wine

For the Dough:

1½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup hot water
(To save myself some time, I used fresh store-bought pizza dough from Whole Foods to seal the pot.)


1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
2. Using a paring knife, slice the peel from the preserved lemon and cut it into small squares. Discard the pulp.
3. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, drop in the peel, and cook for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables and garlic, season with salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables are brown on all sides. (If necessary, do this in 2 batches.) Spoon vegetables into a 4½- to 5-quart Dutch oven or other pot with a lid and stir in the herbs and the preserved lemon.
5. Return the skillet to the heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Brown the chicken on all sides, seasoning it with salt and pepper as it cooks.
6. Tuck chicken into the casserole, surrounding it with the vegetables.
7. Mix together the broth, wine, and the remaining olive oil and pour over the chicken and vegetables.
8. For the Dough, put 1½ cups flour in a medium bowl and add enough hot water to make a malleable dough. Dust a work surface with a little flour, turn out the dough, and, working with your hands, roll the dough into a sausage.
Place the dough on the rim of the pot — if it breaks, just piece it back together — and press the lid onto the dough to seal the pot.
10. Slide the pot into the oven and bake for 55 minutes.
11. Now you have a choice — you can break the seal in the kitchen or do it at the table, where it’s bound to make a mess, but where everyone will have the pleasure of sharing that first fragrant whiff as you lift the lid with a flourish. Whether at the table or in the kitchen, the best tool to break the seal is the least attractive: a screwdriver. Sterilize the screwdriver. Use the point of the screwdriver as a lever to separate the lid from the dough.
12. Depending on whether your chicken was whole or cut up, you might have to do some in-the-kitchen carving, but in the end, you want to make sure that the vegetables and the delicious broth are on the table with the chicken.


If the chicken is cut up, you can just serve it and the vegetables from the pot. If the chicken is whole, you can quarter it and return the pieces to the pot or arrange the chicken and vegetables on a serving platter. Either way, you don’t need to serve anything else but some country bread, which is good for spreading with the sweet garlic popped from the skins and dunking into the cooking broth. A pot at the table is because it makes for easy dipping.


FRENCH FRIDAYS with DORIE is a wonderful virtual group of food bloggers who have cooked their way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table Cookbook. To see the other Dorista’s efforts this week, go to our FFWD link.


  1. Donna Grauer says

    wonderful pictures of a trifecta of some of my favorite people. Ya Know Michael looks purty good for such an advanced age. So glad you memorialized this.
    Oh and the food looks divine as well
    Hugs, TTR

  2. Michelle says

    Wow, what a wonderful accomplishment for you all all the Doristas! I remember coming to your house one day to do the Gougeres! Congratulations to all of you, what an amazing journey.

    • Mary says

      I wondered if you would remember our Saturday Gougeres tutorial in Hendserson., Michelle. I had this culinary genius as a neighbor but had not known it. Nothing bashful about me, I asked you for help. With thanks to Adriana, that Saturday morning launched our friendship…..and, many instances of my SOS text messages.

  3. says

    Oh Mary! Wonderful pictures and that is a perfect example of the dish (I dare say – better than Dorie’s chicken on the cover of the book! Love that you brought out the pearls in addition to the mandatory lipstick! Love the wordings on your T, and on Michael’s and Charlotte’s aprons! Happy belated birthday Michael!

    Good job Mary! So sad the final recipe is done for the original Doristas! I still have loads to enjoy!

  4. says

    Mary – you look so happy & SO pretty! I’ll bet your friends were just “wow-ed” by it all. We also love Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake.

    Looking forward to the next time we get to cook with you!

  5. says

    Pearls, a “What would Julia do” shirt, and a glitery golden screwdriver – my dear, you accessorized the occasion perfectly:-)

    And, “We can always order pizza” just happens to be my motto. No matter how daunting the recipe may appear, no matter how many disasters might take place in the kitchen, the worst thing that can happen is that we’ll have to order pizza. So far, we’ve only had to actually do it once, but not for a FFwD recipe, so I think our record is pretty good so far.

  6. says

    Ah I am seeing everyone made this in a much bigger pot than I did (though I swear the recipe says to make it “snug”) – and that’s why my liquid didn’t evaporate more…. Next time (maybe!). Nice work this week (and every week!). It’s been a pleasure and an honour cooking alongside you each week. XOXO

  7. says

    I love the expression on Charlottes face when the pot is finally opened and my what a pot. It seems that larger is better for this recipe. Love that you made the Helena Cake. It is my favorite dessert too, but probably because it is so easy to make. Well you did it Mary and you brought us all along for the ride. Thank you again for being the heart of this group. Can’t wait to see you this Fall.

    • Mary says

      Thank you, Diane, very much. I almost have the dates for for presidential libraries trip nailed down. About time to meet you, huh?

  8. says

    Brava, my friend, for making this last FFwD recipe an event!! I’m so grateful that this group brought you into my life—who knew we had such connections when we first met? It’s been a glorious journey, hasn’t it? xoxo

  9. says

    I love your post Mary! And you and your chicken look beautiful, as do your friends! Sounds like a wonderful evening. Thank you for all you’ve done for FFwD to keep us on track and going strong. You are an inspiration to me and I imagine many others feel the same. No matter what the future hold I will be checking in on you and your blog. Take and happy French Friday!

  10. says

    Congratulations on cooking the book!!! So proud of you for starting on this journey during a most challenging time, and creating this wonderful community, blog, and life in the process. Looks like a perfect evening to end a wonderful adventure! Onward and upward! Cheering you on the whole way. Love, Missy

  11. says

    First of all, Marie Helene’s apple cake is the very first recipe I made out of AMFT, but certainly not the last 🙂
    You were very wise to enlist help. But we already knew that you are a wise woman.
    I don’t know what I loved more, the bedazzled screwdriver or the Julia shirt.
    I am so glad you joined along with this group & thank you for herding us along.
    Looking forward to seeing you in a few months – I am trying to bring Joe along (just in case you need someone to hold your purse while you use the powder room 🙂 )

  12. TheKitchenLioness says

    Dear Mary – what can I say, dazzled by your post and so grateful for all the work you and Betsy have done for the FFwD group. You got us all motivated until the end and I am quite grateful for that – so are my very happy and now rather sophisticated taste testers! You certainly planned your post so well, the pearls, the t-shirt, your friends, the impressive looking cocotte…I, on the other hand, could not for the life of me imagine what and how I should be going about this final recipe. Be that as it may, we quite enjoyed the recipe, the technique was fun to learn and the weather was picture perfect…
    Sending lots of love your way and being grateful for all that you have done, for your friendship, your support and your interest! I know there are still a few posts to come and I have enlisted the help of a few young ladies to help me along…
    Liebe Grüsse – Andrea

  13. says

    Well, pal, we did it! Hard to believe we’re crossing the finish line already. What a pleasure it’s been to team up with you! I think we did a great job!
    What a perfect birthday dinner menu. Your friends look like they’re enjoying themselves as much as you are. I particularly like the sparkly screwdriver. You know, I brought one up from the basement and never thought to sterilize it. Oops.
    I’m looking forward to following the continuing adventures of Mary! Your posts and emails always bring a smile to my face. I’m so pleased that one of my takeaways from FFWD is your friendship. xox

  14. says

    Mary. you had me with the t-shirt and pearls!! You make every occasion delightful, and take such loving care of your friends (though of course, you sometimes have an ulterior motive of a strong arm to pry open a hot lid or something!). This post surely exemplifies so much of what makes you a lovely person and dear friend! You made the apple cake! Haha!

    Yep, we’ve all been through a lot. And it has been an incredible journey – so far! Thank you and Betsy again for making this into such a wonderful, close community. Well done!!

  15. says

    beautiful photos, Miss Mary, and it looks like you all had a fabulous time making and eating the dish! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and very much enjoyed meeting you this past winter. What a wonderful thing this group is and has been. Thank you, too, for your hard work keeping it on track with the administrative tasks. 🙂

  16. nana says

    Mary, I really have no words except to say this isn’t REALLY over. If you lived on this coast, I think we would really
    enjoy ourselves. However, I certainly enjoyed your company in Seattle, all of your postings and stories, you really
    make me laugh sometimes. I have to give you credit for picking yourself up and making a life for yourself, I know it certainly can’t be easy. I would also like to thank both you and Betsy for all the fantastic work keeping us in line on this journey, it’s been a blast. Thank you for everything.

  17. says

    How marvelous that you were able to share this occasion with such good friends. I think that is something I have enjoyed the most about your posts over the years. The gifts you made of FFwD bounty to all who are around you.
    (I will never understand your obsession with that Valentines post, however. But it charms me it has had such an effect. What is there not to understand? 🙂 ) I hope you will continue to cook and share with your friends and neighbors. I’m excited about what the future brings for FFwD as a community. Without devoted administrators such as you and Betsy to keep things going, however, it will necessarily be a bit different sort of a place. For me it will be home nonetheless. Please reach out if you feel like discussing.

  18. says

    I love, love, love all of these photos Mary! Your T-shirt is also pretty cool. A cake for the birthday boy is an amazing present, and poignant that you used your Michael’s screwdriver to open the pot. It’s been a fun ride and I look forward to the next 4 weeks of FFWD.

  19. says

    So fitting that you made an occasion of this recipe! What a way to celebrate the last assigned recipe, the cover, and your dear friend’s Birthday. I’m so glad you decided to become an admin for the group, Mary. You and Betsy have been such a big part of what’s made this into a community. I’m glad we have four more weeks of posts to go, or I’d be grabbing tissues by now.

  20. says

    Wow. Where to begin, now that we are at the end (or getting there…:). First, I want to be absolutely sure that I tell you how truly wonderful it has been to have you and Betsy as our admins. Unsung heroes for sure- I should have been more diligent at expressing this gratitude along the road. When you are posting on a weekly basis and juggling schedules, it is an amazingly big deal to know that someone has dutifully put the link up so that we can post. You and Betsy have been utter rock stars and very selfless in this area. THANK YOU. Your sharing of your life, your friends, your family and your experiences … all in addition to the results of Dorie’s recipes….has been the difference between this becoming a cooking group to this becoming an internet adventure where we all made amazing friends. I truly feel that I have been invited into your home (regardless of the Colorado, CA or other locations….LOL) and life each week and it has been an utter privilege. You have celebrated the recipes with friends and solo and showed us all the benefits of doing both well. I have particularly enjoyed “meeting” your friends as you cooked with them and this post was a perfect example. Much love, laughter and smiles. How could there not be with a dressed up screwdriver like that ???? I look forward to keeping in touch in the future and to the upcoming celebration weeks. You are the BEST.

  21. Mary says

    Thank you, Tricia, Very, very nice. Really, I think Betsy and I feel very appreciated. Your comment was almost as wonderful as the bucket of Garrett caramel corn that you sent me from Chicago. (not quite as wonderful but almost). XOXOX

  22. says

    Loved reading your post, Mary! How wonderful that you made a celebration out of our last recipe! Looks like you all had a fabulous time! I too loved your pearls and t-shirt…tres chic!
    As always you bring so much sunshine and laughter into your posts! I know this will not be good bye…just au revoir till next time! Remember, I always have room for a friend! And I do consider you a friend! So glad we got to meet in Seattle!

  23. says

    That is too funny, Mary. Your friends really do look nervous! Glad no one lost an eye or sustained any burns! I love the fancy-fied screwdriver! Looks like you had a wonderful time.

  24. says

    What a nice celebration meal. I still need to make that apple cake. I do hope we can see each other again. I would love to see you, Susan and Katie again. The unexpected joy of this group was the friendships made. I look forward to our celebration weeks and I may need your assistance posting as I will be going on vacation.

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