Poule au pot
Poule au Pot
This recipe is the brainchild of Henry IV of France who, despite having 56 mistresses, was happily married to his second wife, Marie de Medici, who was addicted to eating globe artichokes for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities, and having ended religious wars and rebuilt French commerce and industry, turned what remained of his energies to improving the lot of the peasants of France.
This is his recipe, which de dictated saying,
If I were granted more years to live I would make it so every family in the Kingdom could have a chicken for dinner each Sunday.
Poule au pot is cooked in a large pot, in boiling water for 90 minutes. It takes 2 litres of water, and the result is copious quantities of brilliant stock, amazing flavoured sauce, plus cooked vegetables and chicken with a flavour you wouldn’t believe.
Boiling is so much more efficient than roasting, allowing us to stuff the bird safely, something frowned upon in more conventional cooking. The downside: roasted chicken skin, which I love, but to be honest, there are so many wonderful flavours in this meal I didn’t miss it that much.
A 1.8 Kg chicken and a few slices of belly pork, around about 500 g, which are both boiled together.
There are two sets of vegetables for this dish. The first is to flavour the stock and the second to serve at table. The first consists of all those vegetables at the bottom of the fridge, the old onion, the green tops of leeks, some cabbage, overly large and split carrots.
The second are whatever you want from potatoes to turnips. Once the chicken is cooked, the whole lot is removed from the stock, and the new vegetables are allowed to cook in the stock until they are tender.
The origin of the word forcemeat comes from the action – you force the meat into the cavity, in other words to stuff.
300 g breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves
100 g gherkins
1 tbs Dijon mustard
3 rashers bacon
100 g belly pork
1 chopped onion
1/4 tsp Pepper
This stuffing is based around breadcrumbs, and all the ingredients are minced in a food processor.
Force all the stuffing into the cavity, really pushing it home with the spoon. Then pull the skin from the vent into position and it is time to truss the bird.
Cooking the poule au pot
Place the chicken into a large stock pot. Liberally cover the bird with cold water and add all your collected vegetables. The more the merrier really. If you have enough garlic, cut the whole bulb in half and add both halves, as well as about 500 g belly pork.
Bring to the boil and cook for 90 minutes on a low but steady simmer.
Around about an hour into the cooking, test for seasoning.
Take about a third of the stock and reduce by about half by gentle simmering. Add about 30 ml white wine. You can thicken with a little cornflour if you prefer, or if you wish to be terribly English, make a full on gravy.