À Table: Poulet de Bresse en Soupière and Jacques Brel
A portrait from Bresse
Our weekly “À Table”dinner series gets its name from the mealtime call to the dining table. Since 2018, we have invited friends new and old to share a meal focusing on food, music and traditions from various places in the Francophone world.It has proved a fun way to connect with friends and practice our spoken French. Here, we share portraits of some of our favorite meals so that you can do the same. Bon Appétit!
Gathered with friends and family around a steaming pot of chicken and vegetables, with Jacques Brel on the speakers, we are instantly transported to a wintery night in the French countryside.
A Pair of Classics
The classic crooning of Brel’s songs, some candles, a provençal-esque Indian table cloth and bit of nice French red wine while we waited for the chicken to finish cooking, all set the scene for the infamous cutting of the crust.
The steam that escaped as I cut into the browned pastry crust with our guest circled ’round was indeed agréable, as promised in the very literally-translated recipe instructions. Last time we made it we caught a quick video of said steam.
Though I am not practiced in the “usual way” of carving into the chicken, we certainly all agree that each time I have made this, the chicken was very tasty and the vegetables were indeed “excellent,” also as promised in the recipe instructions.
Still very much in my Brassens obsession, initially I had that playlist on while we cut into our steamy Poulet de Bresse en Soupière. By our second serving, Marion mentioned Jacques Brel, we changed the music and this perfect match was born.
This became a favorite by accident. For one of our weekly À Table French dinners, I had planned for raclette, then realized at the last minute that one of the guests didn’t eat pork. I soon realized that almost all of our go-to meals for the À Table series had some form of pork involved. In looking for a non-pork alternative, this recipe jumped out of the 1977 translation of Paul Bocuse’s 1976 cookbook “Paul Bocuse’s French Cooking” that I scored for $10 at a thrift store.
This recipe is both simple and delicious, and it’s enough to share with another family or put in lunchboxes the next day. It also looks way more impressive than it is, and it is pretty hard to mess up*.
Update: I jinxed myself with that last line. Soon after, I made it once more and not only did my pastry cover fall in in such a way that it was impossible to fix, the chicken took two extra stints in the oven to fully cook. Alors, faites attention, mais amusez-vous, aussi (So, be careful, but have fun, also!).
Poulet de Bresse en Soupière
A new family favorite, adapted from the 1977 translation of Paul Bocuse's 1976 cookbook "Paul Bocuse's French Cooking" that I scored for $10 at a thrift store.
truffle salt (optional)and/or swap out some of the butter
Chicken and Vegetables
3lbwhole organic chicken
8ozharicot vert, cut to ~2 inch pieces
1turnip, cut into sticks
8ozcarrots, cut in sticks
5pearl onions (and/or shallots, chunked to pearl onion size)or cippolini next time
8ozgreen peas, shelled
salt and pepper to taste
8tbspsalted butter, cut into pieces
dijon mustard, optionalcondiment
Make the Pastry Crust
At least an hour before, follow Melissa Clark's recipe, adding truffle salt to give it some extra flavor. Or, swap out some of the butter for truffle butter (at least 3 tbsp worth). Allow to rest/chill.
Prepare Chicken & Vegetables
Allow the chicken to sit at room temperature for a bit (especially if you think it may have been frozen, and possibly still frozen at it's core!) Heat oven to 425. Wash and chop the vegetables and keep aside. Remove and discard any innards, and truss the chicken. Season with salt and fresh black pepper.
Place the trussed chicken in the dutch oven, and surround the chicken with the vegetables. Season vegetables with more salt and pepper. Drop the butter all around the pot, on the vegetables and chicken.
On a piece of parchment paper (to ease moving it later!!), roll out the chilled pastry dough into the shape of your pot, and less than 1/4 inch thick. It should be at least an inch bigger than the pot in order to crimp it onto the pot to stay in place. Carefully place it across the pot. Crimp the edges to ensure the pastry stays put.
Place the pot in the oven and allow to cook for ~10 minutes then cover it with foil to prevent the pastry from overcooking. Cook for another 80 minutes, then allow sit in the still-warm oven for 10 minutes.
Set the table, and have dijon mustard, salt and pepper for additional seasoning. Sprinkle the top with truffle salt (if not already in the crust) and bring the whole pot to the table. There is a proper, ritualistic way to let the steam out and then serve it, but you can also simply poke the crust to let out some steam carefully, then divide the crust among guests, and serve pieces of the chicken and vegetables to everyone. Enjoy it all melting in your mouth and watch it disappear. Bon Appétit!
Compared to the original recipe, I made the crust truffle-flavored, and I accidentally skipped the lettuce hearts, and added more vegetables and butter. Next time will be just as shown above, perhaps with some truffle salt sprinkled on the crust (before or after… hmmm). I also cut down the cooking time significantly.
A simple dessert to throw together with pantry ingredients (plus apples, which are always around in our home), and cook along with the chicken. Easy, yet elegant, and fabulously delicious.
Rustic Cardamom Apple Tart
This is a great, quick dessert that has the added benefit of sliding in the oven along with the Poulet en Soupière.
chilling the dough1hr
1/2flaky pie crust Melissa Clark's, tried, true and easywith a tbsp or 2 of sugar added
1large apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/4tspcardamomor more to taste
juice of 1/2 a clementine
2tspbrown sugar, firmly packed
1tbspheavy creamfor brushing the top
1tspdecorative sugarfor dusting
Make the Crust
Follow the instructions in the link, including the chilling time!
Prepare the Filling
If your dough has completed it's chill time and you are ready to cook it, if you don't already have your Poulet en Soupière is already in the oven, pre-heat the oven to 425.
Wash the apples and dry them well. slice them very thin, leaving on the skin for color and texture.
Place the apples in a medium bowl and mix them well with the butter, sugar, spice and citrus juice.
Removed the chilled dough from the fridge and roll it out on a large piece of baking paper, into a rough circle, about or 1/4 inch thick. The baking paper will help you transfer it.
Leaving a 2 inch gap around the edge, place the apples in a a slightly overlapped fashion, as neat or as chaotic as time and desire allow. It should be relatively uniform to promote even cooking.
Fold over the edges, 2-3 inches at a time to get a rough crimp all around. Brush the crust with the cream, and sprinkle it with the decorative sugar.
Cook + Enjoy
Bake per your preference. I like to take it when the crust is barely a nice golden brown, I prefer it not to be too brown, but others prefer it quite golden. I also don't mind a bit of bite still in the apples, but others prefer it to be very soft.
Served warm with ice cream or chantilly cream is divine, but if you are lucky enough to have any left over, it's great cold with breakfast, as well.
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