Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Poule au Pot

Most of the recipes you find here at the brain police are what you could call "slow food".
Especially this time of the year, the house should fill up with the smell of something cooking slowly all afternoon. If it's cold enough, the windows steam up.
Most cooking of this genre is born of neccessity. A good steak has to be cooked fast to stay tender, but a good steak is expensive. Most people have to figure out what to do with cheaper cuts. That's what people ate everyday and the simple ways they cooked these things made most of the classic dishes of the worlds cuisines. This is a recipe for cooking a hen. A hen is a chicken who has been around for a while and layed eggs. By the time a farmer would kill the hen, it had layed plenty of eggs, but it was a tough bird. I'm not sure you could do this dish with regular factory farm raised chicken. A hen required legnthy cooking to tenderize it. This was a dish that was made popular in France in the time of Henry IV, the Protestant King of Navarre who was made King of France in the 16th century after the Valois family killed themselves off.
He converted to Catholicism and united France in the aftermath of the devastating Wars of Religion and became probably the most competent French King. This dish was named after him, Poule au Pot d' Henri IV.
You need a nice fat hen which has been cleaned. Make a stuffing out of some chopped ham, bread soaked in milk, garlic, parsley and thyme. You could add fresh or soaked mushrooms if youu wished. Stuff the hen and tie it up.
Put in in a pot and cover it with cold water with an onion studded it with cloves. Tie up some leeks and put them in. You could add a chicken boullion cube or two at this point. Bring the pot to a boil, covered and simmer for 3 hours.
About an hour before the chicken has finished, add some carrots and turnips if you like. I love turnips.
When it is ready, Take the chicken out of the pot. Let it sit for a few minutes. In another pot, saute some rice as you would for a risotto, then add some of the broth from the chicken.
While the rice is cooking, in another pot, make a rue of flour and butter. You won't need much as the sauce you are about to make should be thinnish. Add the hot broth to the rue and watch it thicken, when it is ready, add some cream.
Voila, untie the chicken, cut it up on a platter. Put the farce on the platter with the vegetables (untie the bundle of leeks).
The serving is some of the chicken, vegetables and some stuffing , the rice all with a few spoons of the smooth sauce over it!
Slow food! Bon Apetit, bien sur!


historymike said...

Looks delicious!

liberal_dem said...

I was thinking of the marvelous creations you present here as I was throwing together a meal in 15 minutes for us to eat the other night.

I thought that, if you were here watching me, you'd get your coat and excuse yourself to a restaurant.

liberal_dem said...

...in fact just today, Thursday I'm throwing togetheranbd cooking a chicken w/noodle soup in 2 hrs.

I know, I know, it should cook all day but we only got home at 15:00 and there was nothing else except a chicken in the refrigerator.

Oh well, it beats Campbell's.