Poulet Sauté Aux Herbes de Provence

August 23rd, 2009  |  Published in All, Around the World, Basil, Delectable Dairy, Honorable Herbs, Most Popular, Sausages, Meats, Weeknight Recipes  |  7 Comments

Poulet Sauté Aux Herbes de Provence

I read cookbooks to relax.  There is no better way for me to unwind than to read a recipe, imagine the finished dish, and consider when I might possibly try my hand at making it.  I go in phases — I rotate between 2-4 cookbooks within a theme for a month or two, then move onto another set of books on a different topic.  For a while I might read about sausage/charcuterie/meat, then move onto indian cooking for a month, then start on simple vegetable preparations for a bit, then head towards bbq for a while, which might then bring me back to sausages and meats.

As of late, my interest has been french cooking.  Old style french cooking, more accurately.  It started after Steven and I went to southern france for a week in late May.  Since then I have been cycling through Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking, Richard Olney’s Simple French Food and The French Menu Cookbook, and Jane Grigson’s Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery, all of which were originally published more than 35 years ago (1960, 1974, 1970, and 1964 respectively).  Simple French Food is emerging as my favorite due to the multitude of not-too-difficult, yet elegant vegetable preparations; with its charcuterie and sausage themes, Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery is coming in a close second.

This delicious chicken preparation, however, is not from any of these four books.  Instead, it is based on a recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which I do not own yet… I am waiting to get back to SF and buy it from Omnivore Books).  It’s a lovely preparation, and not too difficult at all.  The sauce couldn’t be simpler, and the only chopping involved is cutting up 2 T. of fresh basil.  The result is a moist, flavorful dish with a rich eggy sauce that looks beautiful on the plate.  I served it alongside a zucchini and chard gratin (recipe coming soon), a simple green salad, a warm sesame-topped roll, and a glass of not-too-sweet Hungarian Riesling that we picked up on a recent trip to Budapest.  A feast!

Do you have any favorite french cookbooks? old, modern, or otherwise?

Poulet Sauté Aux Herbes de Provence
adapted from Julia Child’s recipe at Epicurious

1/2 c. butter (or goose fat, if you have it)
1 3 – 3 1/2 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or an assortment of chicken pieces, all legs etc)
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried basil
1/4 t. fennel seeds, ground in a spice grinder
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/2 c. dry white vermouth ( or 2/3 c. dry white wine)

2 large egg yolks
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. vermouth or dry white wine
2 T. chopped fresh basil

Melt butter in a large wide pot over medium high heat.  Working in batches, if necessary, add chicken pieces and cook until golden, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch.  Once all chicken has been sauteed, transfer chicken breast pieces to a plate, and return all other pieces to the pot.  Sprinkle about 2/3 to 3/4 of the thyme, basil, and fennel over the chicken in the pot, and the remaining spices over the breast pieces.  Season all pieces with salt and pepper.  Add garlic to the pot.  Cover pot, reduce heat to medium, and cook 8 to 9 minutes.  Return breast pieces to pot, then baste chicken with butter in pot.  Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, turning and basting occasionally, about 15 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a platter, and cover.

Remove peel from garlic, then mash the cloves in the pot.  Add vermouth or wine, then boil until reduced to about 3/4 c., occasionally scraping the bottom of the pan.  Pour the pan juices into a measuring cup and reserve for sauce.

Off heat, whisk egg yolks in heavy small saucepan until beginning to thicken.  Whisk in lemon juice and vermouth or wine.  Gradually whisk reserved pan juices into eggs, a small bit at a time.  Set sauce over a very low heat and whisk constantly until warm and slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in basil, and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon chicken over sauce and serve.  Enjoy!

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  1. Mama JJ says:

    August 23rd, 2009at 4:36 pm(#)

    I just made some tarts (several peach and one nectarine) from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”—they are delicious, elegant, and quite simple. I also make some of Orangette’s recipes; I consider her a blogger with a French flair.

    The chicken looks yummy.

  2. denise says:

    August 23rd, 2009at 9:36 pm(#)

    This plate of food looks fantastic! I just happen to have some zucchini and chard too… Maybe I’ll make the chicken tomorrow. I can always come up with a temporary gratin recipe until you post yours.

    Enjoy those books. My mom used to watch Julia Child when I was a little girl–memories…

    PS “comments” are active again on my blog (no pressure, of course, just an FYI)

  3. Jen says:

    August 24th, 2009at 12:57 am(#)

    Mama JJ — the tarts sound fantastic. Have you ever tried combining peaches and blackberries? I love that combination

    denise — I just ordered a dvd collection of Julia Child’s show on PBS. I can’t wait! On a different note, the chicken is part of Epicurious’s ‘Julia Child’s Birthday’ menu, and suggests ratatouille as a side dish… I have yet to find the perfect recipe, but epicurious’ was pretty good (if a little mushy for my taste).

  4. Kelly says:

    August 25th, 2009at 6:34 am(#)

    That looks fantastic. I definitely don’t make chicken enough. I too read cookbooks to relax. One of my favorite things to do is to go down to the library and lazily pull cookbooks off the shelf to read. I love it because it gives me a chance to cook from books that I probably would never buy, but that still interest me.

  5. Jen says:

    August 26th, 2009at 3:45 am(#)

    Kelly — I used to think I didn’t like it, and then I figured out I just don’t like chicken breasts — too dry and bland… thighs/legs, however, I really enjoy, and there’s rarely a problem with dryness or blandness. My boyfriend likes breasts (that’s sounds bad, doesn’t it :) ), so getting a whole chicken tends to work out for us… On a different note, do you have any favorite cookbooks for relaxing?

  6. Candace says:

    September 9th, 2009at 4:46 pm(#)

    Jen, I’m a big fan of Paula Wolfert and she has a beautiful book, The Cooking of SouthWest France. Her recipes are always spot on.

    Your chicken looks fabulous, by the way!

  7. Kate says:

    December 1st, 2009at 8:45 pm(#)

    Hey, I don’t know you – but I stumbled on your blog after googling “poulet saute aux herbes de provence”. Yours looks great. I followed the same exact recipe but my hollandaise sauce failed. It would NOT thicken. It looked soupy. Do you think maybe the pan juices were too hot? What did you do to make it thicken? I ended up adding some cornstarch, but alas it made it taste like…cornstarch… It was still good, but yours looks much better!

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