Poulet en Gelée

Jellied Chicken

This is a delicious dish, perfect for a summer meal or a buffet. The vegetables, white wine, lemon juice, and herbs impart a subtle flavor to the chicken, and the jellied mound looks inviting garnished with crisp greens. Though never perfect aesthetically (the jelly will be cloudy), this dish is delectable when properly seasoned.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil (half peanut, half olive)
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1 cup water or stock (made with wings, neck, gizzard, bay leaves, salt, and water)
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 5-pound roasting chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 egg whites, beaten stiff
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 bunch watercress or several lettuce leaves
  • 3 lemons, cut in wedges
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or chives

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic. Lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes. Add the vinegar, wine or vermouth, lemon juice, water or stock, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Correct the seasoning (the broth should not be bland).

Place half of the pieces of chicken in a large pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the vegetables on them, put the rest of the chicken on top and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour the broth over the chicken and vegetables so that they are barely covered. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer slowly for 2 to 3 hours. Cool.

Remove the chicken from the pan. Bone and skin carefully with a sharp knife and cut into 1-inch cubes. (If the wings, neck, and gizzard were used, discard them or use for soup.)

Boil the broth, uncovered, over high heat for 15 minutes, or until it has thickened. Add the egg whites. Lower the flame and simmer for a few minutes so the egg whites will rise to the surface along with the scum. Remove the froth. Strain the broth through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and let it cool. Remove as much fat as possible and discard all vegetables except the carrots and bay leaves. Check the seasoning and add the sherry.

Oil a shallow bowl and arrange the carrots and the bay leaves in the center. Place the chicken on and around the carrots and pour the cool broth on them. Refrigerate for several hours until the broth has jelled.

When ready to serve, run a knife around the rim of the bowl, then turn it upside down on a platter. Place watercress or lettuce leaves all around the mound of jelled chicken and garnish with lemon wedges. Sprinkle with parsley or chives.

To serve, scoop out portions with a large serving spoon and put a lemon wedge, to be squeezed on the chicken, on each plate.