Poularde Demi-Deuil

Chicken in Half Mourning

In this classic chicken dish thin slices of truffle are slipped under the skin and over the breast meat of a really fine bird. Poached gently and served with a sauce suprême the chicken is a superb but possibly expensive treat. Nevertheless you may stumble upon (it has been known) or be given a fresh truffle and you’ll then wish to know of a good way of cooking with it. In fact, for serving to more people, a small turkey can be prepared in the same manner. In the Ardèche the truffled bird was wrapped in a scalded cloth and buried in the ground overnight for the truffle to work its magic. In country regions a truffled chicken or turkey would usually be reserved for serving at Christmas. If you are anxious to try this dish with a tinned truffle, it will still be delicious but not at all in the same league.

Ingredients

  • 2–2½ kg(4–5 lb) chicken, the best you can afford
  • a fresh black truffle
  • 1 onion
  • the white part of a leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick of celery
  • bouquet garni
  • salt, peppercorns
  • 30 g(1 oz) butter
  • 20 g(¾ oz) flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150 ml(¼ pt) double cream

Method

The chicken should be truffled up to 24 hours ahead so that the perfume of the truffle can penetrate the meat.

A fresh truffle may be gritty if it comes from sandy soil. Use a brush to remove as much of the sand as possible and wash the rest away under a dribble of cold water. Then peel as thinly as possible. I tie the peelings in a square of muslin and add it to the poaching liquid.

Slice the truffle thinly. Lift the skin of the bird and slip in the black slices against the breast meat and pull the skin back down as snugly as possible. Halve the onion and put it in the cavity of the bird; then truss the bird. Roughly chop the vegetables and make a layer of half of them in a casserole just large enough to hold the bird so that it won’t require too much liquid for cooking. Place the chicken on top and tuck the rest of the vegetables, the bouquet garni, some salt and peppercorns around it. Add hot water to almost cover the legs. Cover and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and just simmer (frémir) for 1¼–2 hours until a knife put into the leg releases only clear juices.

Lift the chicken clear of the stock and keep warm on a serving dish. Strain the liquor into a pan and reduce to 275 ml(½ pt) but taste now and again to ensure the flavour is not too salty.

Melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Gradually mix in the stock, stirring fast all the time. Mix the egg yolks with the cream and add a little hot sauce to them in the bowl; return the mixture to the pan and cook gently, stirring, until slightly thickened, but do not allow to boil. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.

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