Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cook the Books - Poulet a la Creme for French Lessons

With the impending demise of Tyler Florence Fridays, and the fact that my ever-expanding waistline will no longer allow me to participate in My Girl Paula!, I was very excited to discover two cooking clubs that I can have more bloggy fun with. The first is I Heart Cooking Clubs, which right now is featuring Nigella Lawson. The second, is Cook the Books. This club chooses food-related novels to read every other month, and then each member aims to make a dish inspired by the book. I was anxious to get started, but had a bit of trouble getting a copy of the most recent selection and was worried that I might not make the November deadline. Not to worry, my bloggerriffic friends! I enjoyed the book so much, that I tore through it in just a few days and have two recipes selected to highlight. The first, I will post today, while the second will depend on the availability of the ingredients I need.French Lessons, by Peter Mayle, at first struck me as an arrogant account of one man’s travels through France on a no-holds-barred mission to eat and get drunk, with a seemingly limitless line of credit. However, the more I read, the more I enjoyed his tongue-in-cheek style and laughed out loud at some moments I could totally relate to. Mayle dedicates each chapter to a specific foodie subject matter, generally centered around a celebration, fair, or eating competition. In his chapter on the famous chicken of Bresse, he describes a meal he and his cohort enjoy at a local restaurant. Poulet a la Crème. I have no doubt that it was amazing in its own right and that I can in no way compete with the Bresse Chicken, however, I had to give it a shot. Any recipe that calls for an entire quart of cream is okay by me. I was intrigued. I managed to find one site (Colloquial Cooking) online that had a reasonable semblance of a recipe to follow, which, in turn, turned out to be almost identical to the brief description of the dish in French Lessons, which I imagined to be far too simplified.

I was mistaken. This dish is entirely too easy to make, and amazingly delicious. I’ll give you a brief rundown of how I made mine.

Salt and pepper four skin-on chicken breasts and four thighs.Melt an entire stick of butter in a large skillet.
Brown the chicken, skin side down first, being careful not to burn the butter.Turn the chicken, and add one large onion, roughly chopped, four cloves of garlic, smashed, some mushrooms (if you’re not allergic, like I am) and a bouquet garni (mine had chives, sage, and oregano, because that’s what is still alive in my garden).Brown the chicken on the second side, then remove to a pan while you make the sauce. If there is too much butter left in the pan, spoon it out. Deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine, scraping up all the brown bits.Let the wine cook down for a moment, then return the chicken to the pan and pour in the entire quart of heavy cream.Cover and let simmer at least 30 minutes, or until your chicken is cooked through (mine took closer to an hour).
Remove the chicken and add the juice of a small lemon to the pan. Let the sauce simmer and reduce until it thickens slightly (and I mean, slightly. I couldn’t get much reduction at all. And, really, at this point, you don’t care, it smells so good you’ll be tempted to just stick your face in the pan and lap it up).
Serve the chicken up with rice (if you have it, if not, just tear the bone out of it, as my husband would say). Drizzle the chicken with the sauce, or do like I did and serve a dish of the sauce on the side and dunk your chicken bits as you pull them off the bone.All I can say is “wow”. This was crazy good, although I don’t think I can make it often or I may start to look like Peter Mayle. If you’re not on a diet, give this a try, and feel just a little bit French while you’re wandering around the kitchen finishing the rest of the bottle of wine...oh wait, maybe that’s just me....

Jo will be hosting the roundup for French Lessons. Check back after November 8th to see the roundup!

Anyway, just a small note, I would recommend eating this straight out of the pan. It is pretty decent reheated, but you know how cream sauces can get kind of nasty and separated. It was definitely better the first night. Bon Appetit!

Because I am such a bad influence on Ginny, she felt compelled to make this dish, too, and sent me a picture of her results!She also made a lovely cauliflower gratin she found on the same site where I got the chicken recipe.

11 comments:

Pam said...

you had me at "melt and entire stick of butter in the skillet".

Jhonny walker said...

Perfect Time.. I am just learning french from a CD collection ( Collec-tsion) and this looks appetizing from two reasons now :)

Rachel said...

That does look tasty. So glad you enjoyed the book and were inspired to whip this chicken recipe up.

To answer your questions about Cook the Books, Jo, the current CTB hostess, will be doing the roundup after Nov. 8th and then our guest judge picks a winning blog post. Winners then get added to the blog roll as their "prize" and they get a winners badge for their blog. You may want to leave a comment on the French Lessons blog post (second to last one on the main CTB blog page)so Jo will be sure to include your delectable post in the roundup.

FoodJunkie said...

I am glad you enjoyed the book and I have to say this is NOT a recipe for dieters. However, I think chicken loves cream and butter and what the heck, one can eat them both in such quantities once in a while!

ARLENE said...

This would use up about 3 weeks of WW points, but oh what a wonderful time I'd have lapping up that sauce. Well done! I'm in a quandry about what to cook for this book. Nothing featured in the book, save the chicken and that wonderful marathon with its crazy food, ever graces our table.

Kim said...

Wow!! It does sound terrific...are you sure it's not a Paula recipe ;D I'm glad to see you're participating in both IHCC and Cook the books.

Colloquial Cook said...

So glad you enjoyed the recipe :-) I agree it's really simple (although quite a bit of an adventure when you have to do it without people noticing at your workplace, héhé)

Ty'sMommy said...

Colloquial Cook - so glad you stopped by! I can't tell you how much I appreciated finding your post online to use as inspiration.

Joanne said...

A hearty cream sauce sounds ideal to me at the moment as the weather is getting so cold. I wonder what it is about cooler temperatures that makes me crave things like mac and cheese and alfredo sauces. Hmmm...

Either way this looks delicious! I'm glad you were so inspired by the book.

Foodycat said...

Oh wow! That chicken looks so amazing (as it should with so much lovely butter and cream). I would have to serve it with some rice or pasta to soak up the sauce. I am droolinh here!

Claudia said...

Your chicken dish looks sooo good. It made me realize that Jamie Oliver's Chicken cooked in Milk is actually a lower calorie knockoff of this more classic French recipe (though the butter amount is the same). I've done his maybe three times now and it's fabulous, so I can't wait to try the original.