Chicken waterzooï


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Feeds


Appears in

Old Food

Old Food

By Jill Dupleix

Published 1998

  • About

Waterzooï (pronounced something like varterzoy) simply means to simmer in water. It’s an old Flemish dish that can be made of freshwater fish and eel but I love the creamy chicken version from Ghent in Belgium, a one-pot wonder of times past. Serve with a bowl of small boiled potatoes rolled in butter and parsley.


  • 1.6 kg (3 lb) free range chicken
  • 3 medium leeks, cleaned and trimmed
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz) thick cream
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley, or sprigs of parsley


Wash and dry chicken. Place chicken in a large pot, and add enough cold water to just cover. Bring to the boil, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface. Slice leeks finely, and slice carrots and celery into 1 cm (½ in) slices. Add leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaves, salt and peppercorns, and simmer with a slight bubble for around 40 minutes, until chicken is tender and carrots are cooked.

Strain 2 cups of the broth into a smaller saucepan, and bring to the boil. Boil until broth is reduced to around 1 cup. Beat egg yolks and cream together in a bowl. Add a ladleful of hot broth, beating, then continue to beat as you add remaining broth. Return sauce to saucepan and heat very gently, stirring well, until sauce thickens slightly. Taste for seasoning, and keep sauce warm.

Remove chicken from broth and cut it into eight pieces - 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and each breast into 2. Strain the vegetables from remaining broth, and arrange on the base of a large, warm serving platter, or in 4 warm soup or pasta plates. Arrange 1 or 2 joints of chicken on top of vegetables.

Pour the cream sauce over the chicken, scatter with parsley and serve.

P.S. For a pretty vegetable garnish, cut a portion of leek, carrot and celery into fine matchsticks, and set aside. When ready to serve, dunk them in a sieve into the hot broth for one minute, then drain. Scatter on top of the dishes when serving, with the parsley