My Take on “La Poule au Pot” or Chicken in a Pot (Thermostars Season 2)
It’s Monday morning and I’m up earlier than usual for the Monday meeting of Thermomix advisors in my local Branch Office at Chartres. There are butterflies in my stomach as I wrap two beautiful white porcelain bowls and two little pitchers in tea towels and pack them into my carry box. It’s cold outside so I start the car and get it warming up while I pack up my ingredients. Half a fat free-range hen, check. One purple turnip, check. Two ugly organic carrots, check. Bags of herbs and aromatic veg, check. Ah yes, and my whole unpeeled onion, check.
Ok, I think I’ve got everything now, so let’s drive off to the meeting and to the 2nd Battle of Thermostars Season 2, a cooking contest for Thermomix advisors here in France in which I am taking part. This season’s brief is clear: a regional recipe, adapted for Thermomix; locally sourced and produced ingredients; and No Waste. I have been working on my recipe for at least a month and poor ThermoHubby John doesn’t dare ask what’s for dinner anymore, as twice a week at least my answer is “Poule au Pot, what else?” My recipe is based on a very traditional dish dating back to 1594 and to King Henri IV of France, the only French king to have been crowned in nearby Chartres Cathedral. Historically preceding American president Herbert Hoover’s 1928 campaign promise to get “a chicken in every pot,” Henri IV stated,”I want there to be no peasant in my realm so poor that he will not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.” Basically boiled chicken and vegetables, I knew I could modernise and jazz up this recipe, since I did something similar back in 2011 when I created my “Pheasant Four Ways.” When discussing recipes with ThermoHubby John, we both were further inspired by various components of chef Daniel Clifford’s winning dish in Great British Menu of 2012, Slow-poached chicken, sweetcorn egg, spinach with bacon and peas. The Midsummer House chef did some amazing things with chicken skin and a drumstick, which inspired us to take some of Daniel’s concepts further.
To make a long and tasty story short, ThermoHubby John liked my initial ideas and the recipe from the very first trial, and during further testing I was able to improve on taste, technique and timing so that this Monday morning I was ready to go. The “battle” went very well and my dish was fully cooked and plated and my work station reasonably clean when the bell rang and we raised our hands to stop all activity. Well received both by colleagues and the jury, I did my very best and now am semi-patiently awaiting the results which will be announced on 20th February. It seems such a long time to wait!!
Vote for me please!
Each contestant in the Thermostars contest is graded by the jury on criteria such as regionalty, originality, no waste, etc. The jury’s grades count for 70% of our overall grade and your public vote counts for the remaining 30% so please vote for me! You’ll need to quickly set up an account on the French recipe community which only takes a minute or so. As you know from the UK and Oz recipe communities, they never send emails or share your details so your privacy is safe here. I’ll come back and post the link to my recipe once it’s published. Voting takes place from 23 January to 5 February and I’ll make sure you know when and where to vote 🙂 The link will be on my Facebook page too so why not take this opportunity and “Like” my page if you haven’t already?
So how did I “revisit” la Poule au Pot? I deconstructed the recipe and the chicken (or really, the hen) into several components, each bursting with flavour and utilising every single bit of the bird:
My Take on La Poule au Pot
Experience all the tastes of this historical dish in a unique format
Thigh meat and herbs chopped into a stuffing and rolled up Japanese-style in leek leaves
Stuffed and Rolled Breast
The breast meat is flattened, lined with smoky dried ham and stuffed with herbed breadcrumbs before rolling and steaming
Vegetable peelings and bones give extra flavour to this tasty broth
Wing and Drumstick “Lollypops”
The meaty upper wing joint and the drumstick are stuffed with herby chicken meat stuffing
The hen’s skin is baked in the oven to provide crisp texture and intense flavour
Check out my recipe for “Lamb Roly-Poly” to see how to stuff and roll the breast.
Check out this amazing trilingual blog to see how to create the wing and drumstick “Lollypops.”
- 1/2 a free-range hen or chicken, to include 1 wing, 1 thigh, 1 drumstick and 1 breast with its fillet, the skin and the bones
- 1 purple turnip or 6 mini turnips
- 2 medium carrots or 4 baby carrots
- 10 cm of leek, white part only (choose a big fat leek)
- 1 small slice of bread or ¼ baguette
- 1 thin slice of smoked dried ham (such as Serrano, Parma, or your local equivalent)
- parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (leaves only; reserve the stalks for the broth)
- 1 shallot (or a small onion), peeled and cut in 2 (keep the peelings)
- 5 g olive oil (1 tsp)
- the flesh from the thigh and the breast fillet
- parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (leaves only; reserve the stalks for the broth)
- 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 large onion, unpeeled and cut into 4
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 stalk of parsley
- 1 sage leaf
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- the peelings from the turnip, the carrots and the shallot
- the stripped branches of the herbs you used in the stuffings
- salt and freshly-ground pepper
- a small pointed knife
- a knife to joint the hen/chicken
- 2 oven/baking trays
- 2 silicone sheets or 2 sheets of baking paper
- 4 toothpicks
- a rolling pin or an empty wine bottle
- cling film
- Remove the skin from the bird and set aside. Joint the bird to obtain 1 wing, 1 thigh, 1 drumstick and 1 breast with its fillet. Put aside (keep!) all the bones and the carcass.
- Carefully remove two outer leaves from the leek by inserting the point of a small knife to the centre and cutting lengthwise from one end to the other. Separate the largest two leaves and set them aside.
- Put the bread in the TM bowl and add 1 stalk of parsley (leaves and stem), the leaves from 2 stalks of thyme and 1 sage leaf. Add half the peeled shallot or small onion and 5 g olive oil (1 tsp). Add salt and pepper to taste and Turbo pulse for 2 seconds to make herby breadcrumbs. Tip out into a small bowl and reserve. Do not clean your Thermomix bowl.
- Remove the thigh bone and place the meat into the TM bowl along with the breast fillet. (Reserve the bones.) Add a few leaves of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (the more the tastier), the remaining half of the shallot, the remaining bit of leek, salt and pepper and mix 5 seconds/Speed 6. Scrape the sides of the TM bowl and mix again a few seconds if required to obtain a slightly chunky stuffing. Tip out into a small bowl. Do not clean your Thermomix bowl.
- Cut the wing into 3 at the joints. Set aside the uppermost, meatiest part. Put the remaining two wing bits into the TM bowl along with the thigh bones and the carcass, breaking into 2 or 3 pieces as required to make it all fit. Add the unpeeled onion cut into 4, the shallot peelings, a few stalks of parsley, rosemary and thyme, 2 sage leaves, 2 bay leaves and 3 unpeeled cloves of garlic. Cover with water to the 1.5 litre mark, add a good handful of salt and several turns of the pepper mill. Cook 30 minutes/Varoma/Speed 1/Reverse. Replace the measuring cup with the simmering basket on the lid to let more steam escape and to avoid spattering.
- Peel the turnip and the carrots and reserve the peelings. Cut the turnip into 8 pieces and cut each carrot into 4 to 8 pieces depending on size. Place your turnip and carrot pieces onto the Varoma tray and reserve.
- Pause your Thermomix, remove the simmering basket and drop the reserved turnip and carrot peelings through the hole in the lid. Replace the simmering basket and continue cooking the broth.
- Preheat your oven to 180° C. Place the two reserved leek leaves on the bottom of the Varoma dish, pop on the cover, remove the simmering basket and place the Varoma on top of the lid. Steam-blanche the leek leaves for a few minutes.
- Using a small pointed knife, cut the tendons of the wing and drumstick and scrape down the flesh. Push down the meat with your fingers and invert the meat to form a lollypop. Stuff the two pockets of meat with a teaspoon or two of stuffing and wrap the ensemble in cling film. Be sure to retain a nice round lollypop shape. Reserve your lollypops.
- Remove the Varoma containing the blanched leek leaves and set aside. Put the simmering basket back on the lid. Taking care not to burn yourself, place the leek leaves flat onto your work surface. Spread half the remaining maki stuffing on each leaf and roll into a tube. Secure each maki with toothpicks, place into the Varoma dish and reserve.
- Place the chicken/hen breast between 2 sheets of cling film and flatten with your rolling pin or wine bottle. Remove the top film, salt and pepper the breast meat and place the slice of ham on top. Spread the herby breadcrumb stuffing evenly over the meat and begin rolling. Roll it up in your cling film and make sure it's nice and tight. Roll up the ends of the film and tie a knot on each side. Place the roll in the Varoma dish. (See my recipe for Lamb Roly-Poly to see how to roll this.)
- Place the wing and drumstick lollypops into the Varoma dish and make sure you leave some visible holes for the steam to come through - or else nothing will cook!
- Place the Varoma dish with turnip and carrot pieces on the Varoma, pop on the cover and place the Varoma unit on top of your Thermomix as it chugs away. Check the remaining cooking time and either add or programme 30 minutes/Varoma/Speed 2/Reverse. (You want at least 30 minutes cook time for the meat and at least that much more to reduce the broth.)
- Place a silicone baking sheet or a piece of baking paper on one of your two baking trays and spread out the reserved skin as thinly as possible. Place the 2nd sheet of silicone or baking paper on top of the skin and place the 2nd baking tray on top of that. Bake 20 minutes at 180° C or until you have slightly browned, nicely crispy skin. Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack. Turn off the oven and place your serving bowls and pitchers inside to warm, leaving the oven door partially open.
- When the Thermomix rings and the broth is cooked, remove the Varoma and place it, closed to retain heat, on a small plate. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning to taste. Filter the broth through the simmering basket into a large jug or bowl and then pour into your serving pitchers. Keep the filled pitchers warm in the oven.
- Remove the cling film from the wing and drumstick lollypops and the Stuffed Roll, reserving any juices to add to the broth. Cut the roll in two on the bias and cut a little off each end to make a straight base. Place one half of the roll upright in each bowl with the wing or drumstick lollypop and a maki. Don't forget to remove the toothpicks from the maki 😉 Place half the carrot and turnip pieces in each bowl. Remove the top baking tray and paper or silicone sheet, take (or break off) a piece of crusty skin and place it on each bowl as an edible decoration.
- Serve each bowl with its pitcher of broth on the side for your guests to pour over the elements of your Poule au Pot.
- Bon appétit with Madame Thermomix and Why is There Air !