Chicken with Crayfish

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Yield:

    8

    Servings

Appears in

Sauces

By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

This classic Lyonnais dish has been made popular by a number of chefs, including Paul Bocuse. The flavors of crayfish and chicken can be combined by lightly searing, without browning, the pieces of chicken in crayfish butter and moistening the chicken pieces with crayfish cooking liquid in the manner of a fricassée. This dish can also be approached as a sauté by cooking the pieces of chicken completely in crayfish butter and making the sauce in the pan with crayfish cooking liquid. The chicken can also be roasted in the oven and basted with crayfish butter. The drippings are caramelized at the end of cooking, the roasting pan deglazed with crayfish cooking liquid, and cream whisked in along with more crayfish butter. Crayfish tails are the obvious garniture for either version. The following version is a fricassée.

Ingredients

chickens, 3œ lb (1.75 kg) each 2 2
crustacean butter 6 tbsp 90 g
steaming liquid from crayfish or other crustacean, or fish stock 2 cups 500 ml
whole butter 4 tbsp 60 g
finely chopped fines herbes 2 tbsp 30 ml
salt and pepper to taste to taste
crayfish tails, cooked 40 40

Method

  1. Quarter the chickens and lightly sear the pieces on both sides in 4 tablespoons (60 grams) of the crustacean butter in a straight-sided sauté pan.
  2. Add the crayfish steaming liquid or other liquid to the pan, cover, and gently simmer the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes, until firm to the touch. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
  3. Reduce the cooking liquid until 1 cup (250 milliliters) remains. Carefully skim off any fat or froth that floats to the surface. If you would like more body in the finished sauce, continue to reduce the liquid as desired before adding the butter.
  4. Whisk the whole butter into the sauce until completely emulsified, then whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 grams) of crustacean butter.
  5. Strain the sauce through a fine chinois into a 1-quart (1 liter) saucepan. Whisk in the fines herbes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Heat the crayfish tails in the sauce. Serve over or around the chicken.

Variations

Other herbs can be used instead. The sauce for the crayfish can remain somewhat soup-like (these kinds of sauces are often referred to as “long”). Or the cooking liquid can be reduced so that the sauce comes out relatively thick (“short”). Cream can be added to the base and be more or less reduced. Other thickeners, such as hydrocolloids, can be added to the sauce base to minimize the need for rich (and expensive) ingredients such as cream and butter. You can also make a more exciting crayfish base: Steam the crayfish, twist off the tails and claws, and simmer the crushed heads (carapaces) in liquid (cream works amazingly well because its fat extracts color and flavor from the shells). Use this liquid as the base for simmering the chicken.