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Poule au Pot Recipe
An easy-to make, but satisfying dish, supposedly based on the wishes of Henri 1V of France wishing all his people to have a chicken in the pot once a week. A more elaborate version can be made, by stuffing the whole cabbage leaves with a pork meat stuffing, but this version is less time consuming and still good.
The leftover stock can be used as the basis of a soup the next day. But like all chicken stocks will need refrigerating and boiling-up each day, if not used.
A really fresh baguette makes the perfect accompaniment.
For 6 people:
1 2/2½ kilo/ 4-5lb Chicken (a boiling hen is better, as it will have more flavour, but you might have to order this through your butcher. If using a roasting bird, cut the cooking time to 1 hour.
2 medium Onions, peeled, then each stuck with two Cloves
450gr/1 lb large Carrots, peeled, but left whole
450gr/1 lb Leeks, carefully washed down their centres, the very dark green end, and the root, discarded, then each cut into half – lengthways
225gr/8 oz Button Onions or Shallots, peeled but left whole
6 sticks of Celery, washed then each cut into four – lengthways
3 large or 6 medium cloves of Garlic, peeled but left whole
a small Cabbage, Savoy-type if possible
30gr/1 oz Sea Salt
1 teaspoon (5ml) Black Peppercorns – left whole
a large pinch of Herbes de Provence
½ teaspoon (2ml) ground Nutmeg
Equipment needed: an ovenproof casserole, with a lid, large enough to hold all the ingredients. A large serving plate, if you wish to bring the bird to the table.
1.Put the two onions and two of the cloves of garlic into the chicken cavity, and place it in the casserole.
2. Cut the cabbage into 6 triangles, cutting through the core, so each person has a piece.
3. Add the remaining vegetables to the casserole, spreading them about evenly – omitting the cabbage sections.
4.Add enough water to come half-way up the chicken, then sprinkle the liquid with the salt peppercorns, herbs and nutmeg. Add the bay leaves.
5. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and carefully skim off any scum that might come to the top.
6. Simmer for 2½ hours for a boiling bird 1 hour for a roaster, with the lid on – but allowing a little steam to escape. It should cook as slowly as possible, the liquid barely rippling.
7. Add the cabbage sections for the last 15 minutes.
To serve – carefully remove the chicken from the liquid, and peel off the skin (discard this). Surround it with the vegetables, in a decorative way. Accompany it with a bowl of some of the broth, that your guests can help themselves to and possibly some mashed potatoes and French bread.