Mastering classic French cooking at home: Poule au Pot
Oh, to have a repertoire of French cuisine classics that you can whip up at home and know that they’ll be fantastic – every time!
Have you always dreamed of mastering French cuisine? Years ago I attended a course with Le Cordon Bleu in London and I have a very early (1978) copy of Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘, now very yellow and food stained by successful and not so masterful attempts!
Like many of you, I’ve also read the book and seen the 2009 film Julie & Julia, with Amy Adams as Julie Powell and Meryl Streep as Julia Child. Upon hearing about Powell’s attempt at replicating all her recipes, Child was reported to have been unimpressed, viewing Powell’s attempt to be a stunt, and that Powell wasn’t serious about doing it.
We’re passionate about continuing the challenge of mastering classic French cooking at home without having professional training.
In this series we bring you tips and recipes from others who share our passion.
Meet Régis & Carolyne
We have the pleasure of introducing to you two friends behind a new ebook series ‘French Meals Made Easy’, both sharing a passion for French cuisine. The pair have collaborated and put together a series of traditional French classic recipes to try at home, bringing a taste of France to your kitchen: main courses, desserts…
Carolyne Lee, an Australian writer and translator who divides her time between Melbourne and Paris and Régis Jaubert, a French chef who has worked in some of Paris’ big name eateries such as the Plazza Athenée, and the Royal Monceau, and was the chef patissier for the Hotel Hilton Paris Tour Eiffel.
Carolyne says: “When Régis proposed that we produce a series of booklets of classic French recipes for an English-speaking audience, I didn’t have to be asked twice. Especially since it involved teaching me how to cook them!”
Régis has chosen to share the recipe for Poule au Pot with MyFrenchLife™ readers. Poule au Pot is “a dish not well known outside France” he says, “but one that is very specific to the history of my country.” He points out that Poule au Pot is rich in protein and lipids and is a good traditional recipe to revive at a time when many people are too busy to give sufficient attention to the health aspects of their meals.
Although cooking Poule au Pot with a ‘boiling fowl’ (as it is meant to be) takes 2–3 hours, in reality the labour is minimal. You put everything in the pot, bring gently to the boil, and forget about it. Poule au Pot is a great example of ‘slow cooking’! For people who can’t easily get hold of a boiling fowl, we include a variation using an ordinary chicken.
In the 1500s, King Henri IV was worried that the French were not eating nutritiously enough, and insisted that each family eat chicken once a week. He went on to declare Poule au Pot the French national dish.
Poule au Pot
- One boiling fowl (since this is usually difficult to obtain in the UK, USA and Australia, we have included instructions for using an ordinary chicken. The meat is not as flavoursome, but it is still very good).
- Carrots – 1-2 per person.
- Leeks—1-2 per person.
- Water, salt and pepper, Vegeta stock powder.
- 2 tbsp of cream.
- A few dessertspoons of butter.
- A few dessertspoons of white flour (or cornflour)—quantities will depend on the amount of stock you wish to make into the sauce at the end.
- A squeeze of lemon.
- Bring water to a gentle boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook for 2-3 hours if a boiling fowl. By the end of the cooking time, the chicken should fall off the bone easily. Just before the end of the cooking time, add salt and pepper and a teaspoon of Vegeta stock powder.
- For an ordinary chicken, boil for only about 40 minutes, and take out. Leave the vegetables to simmer for 2 hours. Put the chicken back in to the pot for the final 20 minutes.
- Depending on number of people, take out several cups of the cooking water (allow about one cup per person) to make into a white roux sauce in the following way: Melt a little butter (about 1 dessertspoon per cup of water) in a small saucepan, add same amount of white flour (cornflour, if you need gluten-free), stir until it’s blended, but be careful not to let it colour.
- Take small saucepan off the heat, add little by little the hot cooking water, then put back on the heat and stir until it is thick and gently simmering.
- Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of cream, salt and pepper, and one of the following to add a little sourness, according to taste: lemon juice, a little vinegar, or a pinch of citric acid powder.
- The leftover cooking water could be used later for stock or soup. This water can also be used later as soup or stock. For soup, add vermicelli or any Asian noodles, and also any vegetables in your fridge that you want to use up.
- Put the chicken (should be almost but not quite falling apart) in the centre of a large serving dish, and arrange the leeks and carrots around it. Pour the sauce over the top, and conserve some in a jug in case people want to add more.
- Serve with wild rice and green vegetables (for example, green beans, broccoli, brocollini).
- Bon appétit!
This recipe for Poule au Pot was originally published in ‘French Main Meals Made Easy’ ebook series. Thank you for collaborating with us Carolyne and Régis.
Do you know the history behind the national dish of your home country? Have you tried making Poule au Pot? Share your thoughts and experiences with us below!
Indulge yourself with more delicious recipes in our series of how to Master French Classics…
1. Collage of images taken by Scott Gould
2. Régis and Carolyne by Véronique Jaubert
3. Poule au Pot by Carolyne Lee