Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground pepper; put into a heavy casserole with the carrot, celery, onion, peppercorns and bouquet garni. Pour in water, water and wine or stock. Cover and bring to the boil and simmer either on top of the stove or in the oven for 1½–3 hours, depending on the age of the bird. When the bird is cooked, remove from the casserole.
Strain and de-grease the cooking liquid and return to the casserole. Discard the vegetables: they have already given their flavour to the cooking liquid. Reduce the liquid in an uncovered casserole for a few minutes. If it tastes a little weak, add cream and reduce again; thicken to a light coating consistency with roux. Taste, add salt, correct the seasoning. Skin the chicken and carve the flesh into 5cm pieces; add the meat to the sauce and allow it to heat through and bubble (the dish may be prepared ahead to this point).
Finally, just before serving, mix the egg yolk and cream to make a liaison. Add some of the hot sauce to the liaison then carefully stir into the chicken mixture. Taste, correct the seasoning and stir well but do not allow to boil further or the sauce will curdle.
© 2001 Darina Allen. All rights reserved.