Poule au Pot
(French chicken in a pot)
Poule au Pot, literally "chicken in a pot," is typical Sunday dinner fare in the French countryside. A whole chicken is filled with a seasoned bread stuffing and gently poached along with vegetables in simmering broth. The broth is served as a soup to start the meal. The chicken and vegetables are then served as the main course along with the stuffing, which cooks up like a large dumpling and is sliced into rounds.
King Henry IV (1553-1610) said that every Frenchman should eat poule au pot on Sunday.
4 to 6 servings
- Whole chicken, giblets reserved -- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
- Bread crumbs -- 3 cups
- Garlic, minced -- 2 cloves
- Parsley, minced -- 1 tablespoon
- Nutmeg -- pinch
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Eggs, beaten -- 2
- Milk -- 1/4 to 1/2 cup
- Water -- 3 quarts
- Parsley sprigs -- 2 to 3
- Thyme, fresh or dried -- 1 sprig or 1 teaspoon
- Peppercorns -- 6 to 8
- Bay leaf -- 1
- Onions, chopped -- 2
- Carrots, peeled and chopped -- 2
- Celery stalks, chopped -- 2
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Rinse the chicken, pat dry and salt and pepper the insides. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, nutmeg, salt, pepper and eggs. Add enough milk to bring the stuffing ingredients together. Fill the cavity of the chicken firmly with the stuffing and tie its legs together with string to close the opening. At this point, the chicken can be chilled for several hours.
- To a large pot, add the chicken and its giblets (except for the liver), water or stock, parsley, thyme, peppercorns and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper and simmer for another 30 to 35 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the broth and set aside to cool for a bit. Cut into serving portions and arrange on a warm platter. Remove the stuffing and slice into rounds. Arrange the stuffing neatly on the platter. Strain the vegetables from the broth and arrange them on the platter with the chicken and stuffing. Cover loosely with foil and keep warm in a low oven.
- Serve the broth in bowls as a first course. Then serve the chicken, vegetables and stuffing as a main course. Traditional accompaniments are whole grain mustard, mayonnaise or aioli, thinned with a little of the broth, and cornichons.
Poule au Pot Variations
- Stuffing: Chop the chicken's liver and stir into the stuffing. Add chopped ham to the stuffing. Or use your favorite stuffing recipe. You should allow roughly 1 egg for each 1 cup of stuffing.
- Other Vegetables: Turnips, parsnips, leeks, potatoes, cabbage.
- Broth: Simmer the broth with some vermicelli noodles before serving if you like.
- You can also make your poule au pot with no stuffing at all. Simple add some whole peeled potatoes to the broth and simmer until they are cooked through.