First make the stuffing, if using. Mix all the ingredients together with the finely chopped heart, liver and gizzard from the chicken. If the chicken is trussed, remove the string and spoon the stuffing into the cavity, having first removed any excess fat. Either sew up the vent or secure it closed with cocktail sticks or skewers.
Put the chicken (stuffed or not), veal bone or pig’s trotter, thyme, celery stalk and onion in a large stockpot or saucepan and cover with water. Add a little seasoning, the bay leaf, parsley stalks and the neck and wing tips and other trimmings from the chicken. Bring the water just to the boil, skim any foam from the surface, lower the heat and poach the chicken gently for 1 hour. The water should not boil. Then 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. Skim the surface 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 on the platter with the vegetables, moistening with a little of the broth. Serve the broth first with a slice of stuffing, if using, in each bowl, and then the meat and vegetables together with either rice, homemade noodles, dumplings or new potatoes.
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. Or layer in a loaf tin, adding blanched green beans, pour on the strained, reduced stock, cool, then refrigerate until set.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.