Poule au Pot

PouleauPot1_lefermier_300715

In the fifteenth century the Gascon-born French King, Louis IV, famously said in his coronation speech something along the lines of, “I want every peasant to have a chicken in their pot on Sundays”. Well, far be it from me to deny the wishes of an ex-sovereign, so today, I bring you this simple recipe that’s perfect for feeding the family, Sunday or otherwise.

Just like the pot-au-feu recipe I’ve shared previously, you can use the broth from the pot that remains at the end of cooking as an entrée and then serve the meat and veggies for the main.

What really brings this dish to life though is the sauce gribiche. The capers and cornichons give it a tang that complements the chicken so well!

 

Poule au Pot serve 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 litres chicken stock
  • 3 slices smoke bacon (2cm thick)
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 3 celery stick, cut into short lengths
  • 2 turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 4 small leeks, trimmed, cleaned and cut into short lengths
  • 1 small head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 5 bayleaves
  • 6 slices thick sourdough (2.5cm)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 free range chicken ( 2-2.5kg)

Method:

  1. Put the chicken stock, slices of bacon, vegetables, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves into a large pot, bring to the boil and leave to simmer while you prepare the stuffing for the chicken.

PouleauPot5_lefermier_300715

For the stuffing:

  • 50g chicken liver, chopped
  • 125g white breadcrumbs
  • 120g rindless thick slice smoked bacon, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 30 shallots, finely chopped
  • 20g chopped parsley
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt

PouleauPot6_lefermier_300715

For the vegetables:

  • 12 medium carotts
  • 12 small turnips, trimmed and sliced
  • 12 small potatoes, similar size and peeled
  • 12 small shallots, peeled
  • 6 small leeks, trimmed, cleaned and cut in 3-4 pieces

Method:

  1. Mix the chicken liver, breadcrumbs, bacon, garlic, shallots, parsley, eggs and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Season the inside of the chicken and spoon the mixture inside.
  3. Truss the chicken securely with cooking string.
  4. Add the chicken to the pot, making sure that it is submerged. Add I teaspoon of salt, bring back to the boil and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn the chicken over top up with boiling water if necessary, but don’t dilute it too much and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile preheat the oven at 150 degrees Celsius. Place the slices of bread onto a tray and leave them for 20 minutes to dry out in the oven, but not brown.
  7. Lift the chicken out of the pot, remove the first lot of vegetables and discard.
  8. Return the chicken to the pot, add all the vegetables and bring back to the boil, and simmer for 10 minutes and then the vegetables and chicken should be cooked.

PouleauPot4_lefermier_300715

Sauce Gribiche:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 8 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon capers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoons cornichons, chopped
  • 1 hard boiled egg white, finely chopped
  • 1 hard boiled egg yolk, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped.

Method:

  1. Whisk the mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl, then gradually whisk in the olive oil.
  2. Stir in the caper, cornichons, egg white, egg yolk, parsley and some salt and pepper to taste.

PouleauPot3_lefermier_300715

Serving suggestion:

  1. To serve lift the chicken onto a board a cover with foil. Put the dried slice of bread at the bottom of a soup bowl, cover with stock and eat as a first course.
  2. Carve the chicken and cut the bacon. Place some vegetables, chicken, bacon and stuffing on a plate. Drizzle with some stock and serve with the sauce Gribiche.

I suggest you pair this classic dish with a “Close Planted” Pinot Noir 2012 from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

Watch the how to video below or visit my Youtube channel  here for more.

France Culinary Travel Diary – St Emilion & Bordeaux

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – St Emilion & Bordeaux

bordeaux_lefermier_080615

No culinary sojourn to France would be complete without sampling (read over-indulging in) the wonderful wines of France. For me, the varieties of the Bordeaux region are a particular favourite with their oldest red grape variety being Cabernet-Sauvignon, it gives you very tannic red wines with aromas of ripe black currant, green pepper or even liquorice and their white grape varieties Sémillion, it gives you an elegant wine with aromas of toasted almonds, acacia flowers and cinnamon or their Sauvignon varieties which is rich in sugar and produce amazing liquoreux wines in Sauternes or dry perfumed whites wines with aromas of rosewood, spices and fennel in Entre-deux-Mers.

Some of the most outstanding wine Chateaus in the country are situated on the rolling hills of Bordeaux and most have cellar doors which offer wine tastings and retail sales.

bordeaux8_lefermier_080615

Also sitting pretty among the vineyards is the quaint medieval town of St. Emilion. This place ticks the boxes for all kinds of tourists, from history buffs (there are the ruins of a Church destroyed in the 100 years war), to foodies (the stunning Hostellerie de Plaisance restaurant is perched at the top of the town with a fabulous view) and naturally, wine lovers!

With so many options, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with choice so I recommend visiting one of the great cellar doors in St. Emilion which carry an exemplary edit of everything the region’s châteaus have to offer. A good friend from St Emilion Cellar Door took me through his picks for my palette and thankfully they can also ship your wine home for you, so I could buy as much as I wanted without having to lug around bottles for the rest the trip!

bordeaux7_lefermier_080615

The Madame and I only had one short day in Bordeaux and it turned out to be such a stunning one that the friend with whom we were staying insisted we head to the pacific coast for some beach time. Lunchtime on a beach day in Australia normally means some fish and chips, or maybe a picnic lunch, but this is France and “le midi” is a sacred time. On the way to the coast, and situated about an hours drive from Bordeaux, is Cap-Ferret, a hub for holidaymakers, and trendy mover and shakers in the summer months. For those who live in Victoria, this place has a similar vibe to Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road, so Cap-Ferret instantly made us feel at home. We sat down to our host’s favourite lunch spot L’Escale, which sits right on the beach overlooking the Oyster Fields out in the bay. Even though it was only Spring, the sunshine had brought us Frenchies out of the woodworks so there was a 30 minute wait to get a table. Finally, with an icy glass of Rosé in hand, and some of the freshest, most delicious seafood I’ve tasted on my plate, I couldn’t help wondering how I’ll ever be able to go back to a packed-lunch on Aussie beach days ever again.

bordeaux2_lefermier_080615

For dinner in the city of Bordeaux itself, there was only one place on my list, and, knowing my love for the great chef, Rick Stein, you can probably guess where that was – La Tupina. Yes, it’s touristy, and yes, it probably isn’t what it was back in the Rick Stein’s French Food Odyssey days, but I’m glad that I ticked it off my list. Naturally, the non-negotiable menu item was the potatoes cooked in duck fat, which they cook over a fire in the giant fireplace that fills the restaurant entry. I am slightly disappointed to report that while they were tasty enough, they certainly weren’t the best potatoes cooked in duck fat I’d ever eaten and I enjoyed other items from the menu much more.

bordeaux6_lefermier_080615

What it does say is that while the old institutions still have their place, don’t be afraid to stray off the beaten path when finding somewhere to eat on holidays – seek out local recommendations for places where the locals eat!

bordeaux3_lefermier_080615

My St Emilion & Bordeaux picks:

  • St Emilion Cellar Door 4 place de L’ Eglise Monolithe, 33330 Saint Emilion
  • L”Escale Restaurant: Jetée, 2 Avenue de l’ocean Cap Ferret, 33970 Lège-Cap-Ferret
  • La Tupina : 6 Rue Porte de la Monnaie, 33800 Bordeaux

France Culinary Travel Diary – Carcassonne and Toulouse

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – Carcassonne and Toulouse

Carcassonne3_lefermier_010515

Though it’s commonplace for French kids to grow up being surrounded by chateau-a-plenty countryside, and villages filled with wooden shutters and terracotta tiled roofs, even I was in awe when I laid eyes on the medieval fortress city of Carcassonne. With a history dating back to Roman times, full of sieges, ruin and renovation, the city walls still hold many secrets.

20150429_195807  

What’s not a secret though, is that some of the best Cassoulet in the world can be found here, and because it’s a regional specialty it won’t cost you an arm and a leg either. It’s hard to find somewhere to eat within the fortress walls that isn’t “touristy” but I couldn’t have been happier with my choices, which were a little more tucked away. The first was L’Adelaïde and the second was Le Chaudron. The cassoulet at both ticked all the key boxes: crispy top layer, stewed Lingot beans, confit de canard & saucisse de Toulouse, while Le Chaudron’s version also featured pork to their dish, which was the point of difference for me to declare theirs my favourite. A word to the wise, Cassoulet is incredibly rich and filling so it’s best enjoyed at lunch and in the cooler months.

Carcassonne6_lefermier_060715

After Carcasonne, The Madame and I stayed in Toulouse so we took the opportunity to try another variation of the Cassoulet. I could taste the difference immediately between each towns’ version. My Toulouse Cassoulet from Cave au Cassoulet, was saucier (with a hint of tomato), richer (thanks more duck fat being included in the recipe) and, in my opinion, used more delicious sausages (as I’d expect considering the city of Toulouse is the sausage’s namesake). Though I heartily enjoyed every Cassoulet, my overall favourite remains Le Chaudron’s in Carcasonne. It’s all a matter of personal taste though, so if you’ve found somewhere you think serves better, let me know in the comments below! And, if you can’t head to France anytime soon, but are craving something hearty for a cold winter’s day, check out my recipe and try your hand at it.

carcassonne2_lefermier_070515 

20150430_201804

For lunch on the go in Toulouse that’s a little lighter on the stomach and the pocket, you can’t go past Pikanik, a super trendy but equally delicious sandwich and salad bar that was packed by lunch time with students, office workers and tourists alike. For under 10€ you get your choice of salad or baguette, drink and dessert, and it’s even less if you don’t want all 3.

20150430_122112

The true gem of Toulouse though, as a coffee lover, is La Fiancée, a Salon de Café that served coffee to rival the best Melbourne cafés, including perfectly poured lattés! The staff were friendly, the decor justifiably hipster and the location perfect for people watching. A must visit!

Toulouse8_lefermier_070515

20150430_140947

 

My Carcassonne & Toulouse Picks:

  • L’Adelaïde – 5 Rue Adélaïde de Toulouse 11000 Carcassonne
  • La Chaudron – 6 Rue Saint-Jean 11000 La Cité Carcassonne
  • La Cave au Cassoulet – 54 Rue Peyrolières 31000 Toulouse
  • Pik nik – 6 Bis Rue Roumiguières 31000 Toulouse
  • La Fiancée – 54 Rue Peyrolières 31000 Toulouse

France Culinary Travel Diary – Montpellier and Sète

Le Fermier

20150428_131855

 

It was pouring with rain when the Madame and I rolled into Montpellier. Surfacing from the underground carpark in the stunning Place de la Comédie, it was lunchtime and we were hungry so we headed for the closest restaurant and stumbled, very happily, upon L’Entrecôte. Decked out floor to ceiling in bumblebee coloured plaid, the L’Entrecôte here has the same formula as the restaurant chain of the same name in Paris. It’s simple: entrée is oak leaf lettuce, goats cheese and walnut salad, and main is Entrecôte, sliced super fine, with a sauce à la maison and as many shoestring fries as you can handle. There’s something calming about sitting down to a meal and knowing you only have to make one choice: “how do I want my steak cooked?”      

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of an entrecôte, it’s basically a rib eye without the bone, but it tastes different because of the different breed of cows between Australia and France.

Being a rainy Monday night in Montpellier when not a lot was open, and still full to the brim with frites and steak, we opted for a casual dinner of take-away burgers as this seemed to be a real trend sweeping the town. We found a great little place, which I suppose was the equivalent of Australia’s Grill’d, called 321 Burger where the meat was cooked to your liking, as were the toppings.

Montpellier10_lefermier_010515

Moving onto the seaside town of Sète, the skies were kind and provided a perfect backdrop of bright blue to the fishing boats and the café-lined main street. Being a town with a fishing heritage, you’d be correct in thinking the seafood here is great, it is. Along the main street stands restaurant after restaurant, proprietors out the front beckoning tourists to dine with them. The one that took our fancy, Porto Pollo, had a large blackboard, separate to the usual tourist menu, with “Moules Frites 13€” written in huge letters. We were sold and not disappointed. I overheard the owner telling another customer that they’d recently reduced the size of their menu which meant was that everything that remained was fresh, nothing frozen, and I could taste said freshness with every little garlic butter drizzled mussel I ate. Add some crispy shoestring fries, a cold glass of Rosé and the warmth of the Midday sun, and there’s not much more you can ask of a day in the South of France!

20150428_122149

My Montpellier &  picks:

  • L’Entrecôte : 3 Rue de Verdun 34000 Montpellier
  • 321 Burger : 4 Rue St Come 34000 Montpellier
  • Porto Pollo: 17 Quai Général Durand 34200 Sète

 

France Culinary Travel Diary – First stop: Aix-en-Provence

Le Fermier

France Culinary Travel Diary – First stop: Aix-en-Provence

aixenprovence5_lefermier-260415

First stop is the medieval town of Aix-en-Provence, in France’s South, slightly North of Marseille. It’s only April so the town is still a little sleeply, coming out of its winter hiatus, prepping for the tsunami of tourists that will flood Provence during the summer months.

aixenprovence6_lefermier_260415

The main drag, Cours Mirabeau, is 100% geared for these visitors, with Paris-style bistrots and Irish pubs overlooking the fountains and designer stores. They’re great for aperitif and people watching and our favourite was Bar Le Grillon. But, it’s the back streets that were far more interesting food wise and also where the Saturday markets are held. This is what I missed most about France and Aix did not disappoint!

Aixenprovence1_lefermier_260415

It was a slightly drizzly morning when the Madame and I stepped onto the sandstone pavement, bright eyed at 7am thanks to some residual jetlag. We followed the locals as they weaved their way through narrow alleys and lanes, until we were warmly greeted by stalls upon stalls of the freshest and brightest looking vegetables, meats, fruits and flowers, protected from the weather by a canopy of elm trees.

aixenprovence8_lefermier_260415

I bought a fresh punnet of strawberries, a saucisson de Taureau and some Herbes de Provence, but if I’d had a little kitchen I would have gladly bought some Tomates de Marmande which were vibrant red and as big as two fists, fresh oysters and Homard Bretons (lobster) and about as much cheese as my nose could handle. The Madame on the other hand, would have happily spent all our Euros on bunches of peonies, despite not having anywhere to put them but in the back seat of our hire car…

aixenprovence4_lefermier_260415

It was also on the corner of this market square where I discovered a little coffee shop that made a mean short black but also sold coffee beans, which they ground fresh to order, from around the world, including Australia! The Madame’s latté left her wanting as it looked more like a ‘froth-a-cino’ on steroids but neither of us could fault the quality of the shot.

 

I noticed a huge Italian influence (or is that tourist influence, not sure which?!) food-wise with every second restaurant seemingly a pizzeria. We found a great one though, simply called “Le Pizza”, where the ingredients were super fresh, top quality and well priced.

aixenprovence7_lefermier_260415

The culinary specialty of Provence is the Callison, a small almond biscuit that is made in many flavours, but always almond shaped. They aren’t cheap, but they are delicious and there are two famous stores to buy them at. Le Calisson du roi René and patisserie Béchard.

Calisson_lefermier_270415

Next stop is Montpellier by way of Marseille. If you have any must visit places, I’d love you to share them with me!

20150427_083433

My Aix-en-Provence Picks:

  • Café Le Grillon – 49 Cours Mirabeau 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Le Brûlerie – 1 Place Richelme 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • La Pizza – 3 rue Aude 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Farmers & Flowers Markets – Place de l’Hotel de Ville 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
  • Callisons de Roy René – 13 rue Gaston de Saporta 13100 Aix-en-Provence
  • Pâtisserie Béchard 12 Cours Mirabeau 13100 Aix-en-provence