Monday, July 13, 2009

Celebrating Bastille Day ...Chicken Grand-mere Francine Daniel Boulud

Pin It Chicken grand-mère, a savory fricassee, is a classic in French cuisine in general, but it was a classic in Daniel Boulud's family too. It was a specialty and a favorite of his Grandmother Francine, who cooked at the original Café Boulud outside Lyon, and at no time was it better than at mushroom harvest time. Mushrooms are a typical chicken grand-mère ingredient, but there was nothing typical about the dish "when my grandmother would add rose des pres, pink field mushrooms, newly dug potatoes, and new garlic." Fortunately, this dish always seems to be both satisfying and soothing whether you’re making it plain, with cultivated cremini or oyster mushrooms and creamer potatoes, or fancy, dressing it up with exotic mushrooms and any of the small fingerling or banana potatoes that many green markets now offer.

This is the kind of dish that I would serve in the Fall or Winter, but it is so typically French, that I thought I would add it now in honor of Bastille Day on July 14th. Why don't you start with the figs, prosciutto and cheese recipe from the last post? I think it would make for a beautiful combination, particularly now in the summer!

Makes 4 servings


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
One 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 cipolini onions, peeled and trimmed
4 shallots, peeled and trimmed
2 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
3 sprigs thyme
4 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 small celery roots [celeriac], peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 ounces slab bacon, cut into short, thin strips
12 small cremini or oyster mushrooms,trimmed and cleaned
2 cups unsalted chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth*

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Working over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan or skillet – choose one with high sides and a cover. Season the chicken pieces all over with salt and pepper,slip them into the pan, and cook until they are well browned on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes. Take your time – you want a nice,deep color and you also want to partially cook the chicken at this point. When the chicken is deeply golden, transfer it to a platter and keep it in a warm place while you work on the vegetables.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the cooking fat from the pan.Lower the heat to medium, add the butter, onions, shallots, garlic,and thyme, and cook and stir just until the vegetables start to take on a little color, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, celery root,and bacon and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, just to start rendering the bacon fat. Cover the pan and cook another 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.

4. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and return the chicken to the pan. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil, and slide the pan into the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes,or until the chicken is cooked through. Spoon everything onto a warm serving platter or into an attractive casserole.

To serve: Bring the chicken to the table, with plenty of pieces of crusty baguette to sop up the sauce and spread with the soft,sweet, caramely garlic that is easily squeezed out of its skin.

Cook's Note*I use 3/4 cup of a rose or robust white wine and 1 1/4 cup chicken bouillon. Sometimes I substitute the wine with cognac, particularly if I use fancy mushrooms, to make it more special!

To drink: A rustic Bandol Rouge

Cook's note: Rather than use an oven proof skillet, I use a cocotte, a French oven proof cast iron dish. Le Creuset makes a good one!

Adapted From Café Boulud Cookbook by Daniel Boulud (Simon & Schuster, Scribner, 1998)

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