La Poule au Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 large oven-ready free-range or organic chicken, about 2 kg (4 lbs., with giblets
  • 1 veal shin bone, chopped (ask your butcher to do this for you), or pig’s trotter
  • large sprig of lemon thyme or plain thyme
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 onion stuck with four cloves
  • salt, pepper
  • parsley stalks
  • bay leaf
  • 12 young carrots, peeled or scrubbed
  • 12 small turnips, peeled
  • 12 pickling onions or shallots, peeled
  • 1 small cabbage, cut into wedges

stuffing (optional)

  • 200 g (7 oz) belly pork, rind removed, and minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 onion or shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 heaped tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt
  • pepper

Method

Mix all the stuffing ingredients together with the finely chopped heart, liver and gizzard.

If the chicken is trussed, remove the string if you wish to stuff the bird. Spoon the stuffing into the cavity, having first removed any excess fat, and either sew up the vent or secure it closed with cocktail sticks.

Put the chicken, veal bone or pig’s trotter, thyme, celery stalk and onion in a large stockpot, and cover with water. Add a little seasoning, the bay leaf, parsley stalks, neck and wing tips and other trimmings.

Bring the water just to the boil, skim any foam from the surface, lower the heat as far as possible, and poach the chicken very gently for an hour. The water should not boil.

After an hour, remove the herbs, celery and onion, and add the prepared vegetables. Bring back to the boil, lower the heat, and poach until the vegetables are just cooked. Throughout the cooking, the surface should be skimmed occasionally to remove any impurities.

Transfer the chicken to a carving board, and the vegetables to a serving platter. Cut up the chicken, and arrange with the vegetables, moistening with a little of the broth.

Serve the broth first with a slice of stuffing in each bowl and then the meat and vegetables together with rice, noodles or new potatoes. Whichever starchy accompaniment you have chosen will already have been cooked, of course, and for the cooking liquid, you can use some of the broth from the pot of chicken.

The veal or pig’s trotter will provide enough gelatine in the broth for you to serve a cold poule au pot, if you wish. Make this by arranging the vegetables, chicken and stuffing in a deep platter, and pour over it the strained, reduced stock. Cool, then chill until just set.

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