Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Poulet en Cocotte Bonne Femme

(Casserole roasted Chicken with Bacon, Onions, and Potatoes)

1/2lb bacon
1 tbsp butter
Remove the rind and cut the bacon into Lardons (rectangle strips 1/2 inch wide, and 1.5 inches long). Simmer for 10 min in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water and dry. In the casserole, sauté the bacon for 2 – 3 min. in butter until very lightly browned. Remove to a dish, leaving the fat in the casserole

3lb roasting chicken, trussed and buttered
Brown the chicken in the hot fat. Remove it to a side dish and pour the fat out of the casserole.

Preheat to 325f

15-25 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
drop the onions in boiling, salted water and boil slowly for 5 min. Drain and set aside.

1 to 1.5lbs “boiling” potatoes, or small new potatoes
Peel the potatoes and trim them into uniform ovals about 2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Drain immediately.

3tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
A medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp thyme tied in washed cheesecloth
Heat the butter in the casserole until it is foaming. Add the drained potatoes and roll them around over moderate heat for 2 minutes to evaporate their moisture; this will prevent their sticking to the casserole. Spread them aside, salt the chicken, and place it breast side up in the casserole. Place the bacon and onions over the potatoes, and the herb bouquet. Baste all ingredients with the butter in the casserole, lay aluminum foil over the chicken, and cover the casserole.

Heat the casserole on top of the stove, until the contents are sizzling, then place in the middle of the preheated oven and roast for 1 hour and 10-20 minutes or until the chicken is done. Baste once of twice with the butter and juices in the pan. No sauce is necessary.

This is from the Julia Child Book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
For anyone British who might be reading this, she was the original celebrity chef in the States. She was “the” source for a whole generation of cooks, and she was beloved. This is the first time I have ever made one of her recipes, and I suppose it’s no big surprise that it was amazing. If this recipe is anything to go by, she is totally worth the hype.

I haven’t really gotten into this book in the past because I had this idea that French cooking would be tons of cream and tons of detailed precise hard work. Turns out that none of these things has to be true. This recipe was a bit fussy I guess, with the pre-boiling of the onions and the potatoes (I didn’t boil the bacon, I probably should have, but I don’t believe there was a detrimental effect). But other then that it was your basic brown and bake type recipe.

I was sure that there wouldn’t be enough liquid, and I was worried that such a basic recipe would be lacking in flavor. I was wrong on both counts. This dish was beautiful. I accidentally ripped the skin when I was browning it, but oh my god what a moist tender delicious chicken, and the potatoes were just how I always want potatoes to turn out. The little bit of seasoning really just brought out the natural flavors of the potatoes, onions and chicken.

There was a tip I learned before about peeling onions. I recommend it for this, as it would be way too tedious otherwise. Put all the onions into a bowl and cover over with boiling water. Cover the bowl and leave for 5 min. Drain them and rinse under cold water, and the skins pretty much come right off. If I hadn’t known that, I probably wouldn’t have even attempted this one.

All in all, I am always looking for another way to roast a chicken, and this is one that I will absolutely, most definitely make again.


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