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In 16th Century France it was en vogue to abuse your royal powers by living overly-luxurious lifestyles or fighting religious wars at the expense of the over-taxed and underfed peasants.
So when King Henri IV came into power in 1589, it was refreshing to have a forward-thinking King with religious tolerance and respect for the well-being of his subjects. Perhaps it was a romantic notion for the times, but amongst his many revolutionary policies he deemed it imperative that every working person should have a chicken in their pot on Sunday. His preferred method of preparing a chicken in a pot was the very literal Poule au Pot (chicken in a pot).
This simple, wholesome and frugal dish holds up to the current economic state and will help us all cope with the transition of power until the new guy in charge can bring about a refreshing change.
This classic dish is the original one pot wonder. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity, the result is an amazingly juicy poached chicken with wholesome vegetables and the option to customize your own garnishes.
Vive la recession!
1 whole chicken
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into eight
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 3’ lengths
2 ribs of celery, cut into 3’ lengths
1/2 onion, peeled
1 Litre chicken stock
water as needed
1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic
seasalt (or Maldon salt)
a meat thermometer
Place all ingredients in a large pot. Tie the aromatics up in a piece of cheese cloth to make a bouquet garni. Add water to submerge the chicken by 2 inches.
Place the pot over medium heat, it will take a while to heat up, but once the water begins to swirl. Use your thermometer to monitor and maintain a temperature of approximately 180˚F. Never let it get hot enough to simmer or the chicken will get tough. As soon as the water is up to temperature, it should take the chicken 35-40 minutes to cook through and reach an internal temperature of 145˚F. Test it by inserting the same thermometer in the thigh joint or poke it and if the juices run clear without pink it should be done.
Remove the chicken and allow it to rest out of the water for 5 minutes while you pluck out the potatoes, carrots and celery. Discard the onion and aromatic bouquet. Adjust the seasoning of the broth with salt. Remove the skin and divide the chicken as you desire. Present each person with a large shallow bowl containing two pieces of each veg, a nice chunk of chicken and a splash of the seasoned broth. Let each person add their own garnish. Set the table with four spoons, forks, knives and napkins.
After dinner, dice all the leftover tasty tidbits and toss them back into the broth for a delicious chicken soup.
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