Truffled Poached Chicken

A kind friend has given you a black truffle weighing about 55g / 2oz, or you have spent £20 to £30 buying one. What to do with it? French classic cuisine is full of truffles, sliced and slipped under the breast skin of a chicken and poached, or in a rich sauce with a Dover sole baked whole en croûte.

I think a truffled poached chicken is quite the nicest way of enjoying this very rare and special treat, infusing the bird and the broth with its inimitable and all-pervasive flavour. The truffle is something which interacts with other food, elevating ordinary ingredients to another plane. The alchemy of the black arts indeed.

Ingredients

  • 1 black truffle, weighing about 55g/2oz
  • 1.35kg/3lb free-range chicken
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 onion, topped and tailed but with skin on
  • 4 medium leeks
  • 115g/4oz unsalted butter
  • bouquet garni of celery, parsley stalks, 8 black peppercorns and a sprig of thyme, all tied in muslin
  • about 2.25 litres/4pt Chicken Stock, or water, or a mixture of the two
  • salt and pepper

Utensils

  • large saucepan
  • bowl
  • sauté pan
  • colander or sieve

Method

Mise en Place

Prepare the chicken: gently scrub the truffle, then peel it, reserving the trimmings. Slice it very thinly • Work your hand under the chicken’s breast skin, pulling it away from the breast on both sides and working down to pull the skin away from the legs. Slip the truffle slices under the skin, distributing them evenly on both sides, making sure some slices are located under the leg skin as well as under the breast skin.

Peel the carrots • Top and tail the onion, but leave its skin on • Wash and trim the leeks • Remove the butter from the fridge to allow it to soften.

Cooking

Put the bird into a large pan, surround it with the vegetables and bouquet garni and cover with chicken stock or water or a combination of the two. Bring to the boil and skim. Then turn down the heat to achieve the barest simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Poach uncovered, skimming from time to time, for 60 minutes. Remove the chicken and put in a warm place to drain and cool.

Sieve the stock into a large bowl, clean the saucepan and return the stock to it. Put on a high heat. As it comes to a boil, skim the scum that will be generated, and continue to boil while you cook the leeks.

Put a large pan of lightly salted water on to heat. Cut the leeks into 2.5cm/1in pieces and wash again in a colander. Blanch the leeks in the rapidly boiling water for 3 minutes (they should be slightly underdone) and refresh in cold water.

Chop the truffle peelings finely and add to the softened butter in a small bowl with some salt and pepper, mashing them all together.

Put the leeks into a sauté pan over a medium heat and add the truffled butter. Stew gently until the butter is melted and the leeks are hot.

Serving

Serve the broth first in soup plates, then serve the warm chicken as a separate main course on warmed plates with the leeks.

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