Chicken Casserole

Hochepot de Poullaille

In medieval times, birds and small animals like suckling pig were tender enough to be roasted. Other tougher meats needed to be simmered in a cauldron or chopped – cleavers were still the quickest method of chopping by hand.

In medieval times the name hochepot meant a pot on a hook, suggesting that the food in it was simmered a long time. An hochepot resembles a hot pot; it is also the origin of the expressions “hodgepodge” and “hotchpotch.”

Take your chicken and cut it in pieces and put it to fry in lard in a casserole; then take a little browned bread and the livers of the chicken and soften them with wine and beef stock, and put them to boil with your chicken; then peel ginger, cinnamon and grain of paradise [cardamom] and dissolve them in verjuice; and it should be clear and dark, but not too much.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices bread
  • lb/1.6-1.8 kg roasting chicken, cut in pieces, with the liver
  • 6 fl oz/¾ cup/175 ml red wine
  • 6 fl oz/¾ cup/175 ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp verjuice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • seeds of 1 cardamom pod, crushed

Method

  1. Heat the oven to No 2/300°F/150°C. Bake the bread in the heated oven until thoroughly browned. Let cool, then grind it to fine crumbs in a food processor or blender. Remove any membrane from the chicken liver and purée in a food processor or blender. Alternatively, chop the chicken liver finely and work it through a strainer to remove the membrane. Add the liver to the breadcrumbs, stir in the wine, and let stand until the breadcrumbs are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beef stock.
  2. In a casserole heat the lard and brown the pieces of chicken on all sides. Add the breadcrumb mixture with salt and pepper, cover, and simmer on top of the stove or cook in an oven heated to No 4/350°F/175°C until the chicken is almost tender, about 30 minutes. Stir the verjuice into the ginger, cinnamon and cardamom and stir this mixture into the chicken sauce. Continue cooking until the chicken is very tender, about 10 minutes longer. Take out the chicken and keep warm on a serving dish. Boil the sauce until it is dark, glossy, and very thick; spoon it over the chicken on the dish.