Start with overnight poached chicken, then head right into pho territory
While this is not traditional Vietnamese pho, it's a no-fuss, flavorful substitute for those who don't have hours to roast bones and stand over a slowly simmering pot. Once the chicken has cooked, pull the meat from the bones and shred it back into the broth. Then doll up each bowl with rice noodles, fresh herbs and condiments as you like.
The bird needs to be air-dried in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours.
For the pho
One 3- to 3-½-pound whole chicken (giblet packet removed, if there is one)
Freshly ground black pepper
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, chopped into chunks (unpeeled)
1 carrot, scrubbed well and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 ribs celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 shallots or 1 medium red onion, cut into quarters
Cloves from 1 head garlic (peeled)
Three 3-inch cinnamon sticks
5 whole star anise
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 small dried Thai chile or other hot chile (optional)
Dried or fresh rice noodles
Fresh bean sprouts
Sambal oelek, Sriracha or other hot sauce
Fresh herbs, such as cilantro or culantro, mint and/or Thai basil
For the pho: Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cool running water. Pat dry with a paper towel and set on a large plate. Season aggressively with salt all over and inside the cavity. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
When you're ready to begin cooking, position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees.
Place the chicken in a Dutch oven (8-quart) or heavy pot with a lid and stuff the lime half into the cavity. Season with several grinds of pepper.
Drop the ginger, carrot, celery, shallot or onion pieces, and garlic cloves into the pot, surrounding the chicken with them. Roast, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the top of the bird has browned.
Remove the pot from the oven, leaving the oven door ajar. Reduce the temperature to 200 degrees.
Add enough water to the pot to come up about two-thirds on the sides. Add the cinnamon, anise, coriander seed, and chile, if using. Cover tightly and return to the oven; slow-roast for 6 to 8 hours, undisturbed, with the oven door closed.
Transfer to the stove top (off the heat); uncover and let cool until the broth is a warm, noninjurious temperature. Place the chicken on a cutting board; pull all the meat, discarding the lime half, skin and bones. Strain the broth left in the pot, discarding any solids.
To serve: Return the broth to the pot over medium heat, adding the rice noodles when the liquid begins to bubble at the edges. Cook just until the noodles are limp and tender.
Garnish each portion of pho with a generous handful of the pulled chicken and any of the garnishes and condiments.
Adapted from a recipe by chef Chris Bradley.