Gabrielle d’Estrées, who shared Henri IV’ culinary preferences liked to please the monarch by frequently inviting him to savor a ‘Poule au Pot.’ From that time, Henry IV wished that the ‘Poule au Pot’ was served once a week to every family in France, a true weekly treat for each of his subjects.
The great king’s vow, whose name has remained popular to this day, was widely misunderstood. Most people believe that this dish was once simply an old hen cooked in soup. Many people tried to cook it with an old chicken and discovered that the results were not so great.
Gabrielle was the daughter of the governor of ‘L’Ile de France,’ Baron de Boulonnais, who was also the father of eleven children, seven of whom were girls known as ‘the seven deadly sins’ because of their role as courtesans. Their mother was dubbed ‘Madam whore hutch.’
It was said that Gabrielle’s mother had previously sold her to Henry III for six thousand crowns (French coins), but Gabrielle’s marriage with Henry IV was later forbidden by Pope Clement VIII.
Nonetheless, this story inspired a famous dish, not just a simple chicken broth, but one of the most popular dishes in French cuisine.
Now that the atmosphere has been set let’s go to the market. You will need:
“La Poule au Pot”
The Hen and its stuffing
A hen neither too young nor too old (about two years old), of course, a chicken coming from the farm
A bard of bacon big enough to cover the whole hen once stuffed
For the stuffing, 150 to 200 g of raw ham (Bayonne ham preferably)
50 grams of lard
The hen’s liver
3 whole eggs
A garlic clove
Parsley about 20 g once chopped
20 to 30 g of shallots
Some tarragon leaves
Bread crumbs, about 30 g
Three tablespoons of milk
Salt, Pepper, Nutmeg
I like to add a bit of Foie gras to bring some softness to the ham and lard stuffing, some tarragon, garlic, egg yolks, a chicken liver, some parsley, shallots, leek whites, a carrot, a clove onion, some Caroline rice for the soup, a turnip, some coarse and fine salt, and some freshly ground black pepper.
Three liters of water
150 to 200 g of carrots
100 g of turnip
30 g of leek white
A medium onion stung with a clove
A small clove of garlic
A branch of celery
150 to 200 grams of rice Caroline, depending on whether you like your soup (with more or less rice).
The necessary equipment
A pot with a capacity of six liters
A meat grinder
A Small salad bowls to beat the eggs
A Long-handled wooden spoon
A Saucepan for the rice
Preparation of the hen
After the chicken has been plucked, it must be flamed, emptied, stuffed, and finally barded.
Cut the chicken liver and ham (150 g) into very small pieces, along with the lard, which should only be added if the stuffing is too dry.
Crack three fresh eggs into a small bowl. With a fork, lightly beat them. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and if desired, a pinch of nutmeg.
The shallot should be peeled and chopped (20 g). Peel a nice garlic clove (five grams) and a few tarragon leaves.
3 tablespoons cold milk + 30 g bread crumbs
In the bowl, combine the soaked crumb, shallots, garlic, parsley, and tarragon with the seasoned eggs.
With a fork, thoroughly combine all ingredients.
Stuff the chicken
You must first sew the hen, except for the rump, where a sufficient opening for the prepared stuffing must be left.
Stir in the stuffing with a wooden spoon. Shake the hen occasionally to help the stuffing mix.
Finish by sewing the skin of your stuffed chicken together.
Bard the hen
Wrap the chicken in a large piece of bacon and tie it together with small strings, not too tight, just enough to keep it together. Wrapping it this way will keep its tenderness and perfect white flesh.
The cooking time is two and a half hours from the time the liquid begins to boil. The first step is to place the vegetables in the pot. You’ll need a stew pot that can hold 6 liters of water.
The first hour of cooking
Fill your pot with 3 liters of water and place the feet and hen gizzard inside. When the water begins to boil, add the entire hen. The hen must be submerged in water. Wait until it boils again, skim the water carefully, season with salt, and cook for 1 hour on low heat, not completely covered by the lid.
During the cooking
Peel the carrots, turnips, and 100 grams of leeks, yielding 30 grams of white leeks. Only use the white part of the leeks. Add an onion pierced with a clove, a celery branch, and another small, unpeeled garlic clove. Cut the carrots and turnips lengthwise into quarters to make them easier to grab when cooked.
After an hour of cooking
Add the vegetable you just prepared and let the dish cook 1 hour more.
How to cook soup?
This recipe provides a main dish and a soup made with rice at the same time.
The choice of rice
I absolutely recommend using Carolina Rice (superior rice).
Half an hour before serving, take 12 l of the broth from your pot, strain it with a strainer, and add the washed rice. Bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat and leave your rice to cook. When ready, add more broth to make a soup. Taste and adjust seasoning, salt, and pepper as needed.
When it comes to powdered white pepper, as well as black pepper, remember that it is always best to use it freshly ground. Cooking too long causes the pepper to deteriorate and lose its aroma, so add it at the end.
The service includes rice soup and boiled chicken, both of which must be served at the same time.
Place the soup in a large bowl and the chicken, carrots, turnips, and leeks on a large round plate. The stuffing must be thinly sliced.
Recipe from Jeanne Savarin.
Grandson of a famous Chef (his grandfather owned the Buffet de la Gare de Rennes (France) at the end of the 19th century), Thierry Guineau has accumulated forty years of culinary experience throughout the world. During his stay in Asia, he was recognized prodigious, draped in his jacket of Executive Chef at the Meridien of Jakarta, at the Holiday Inn Harbin China, at the Meridien of Phuket, the Sheraton Zhongshan in China, or at the Coco Beach Vietnam, to name a few. Today, he leaves in Mui Né, Vietnam and share his free time between consulting and professional training where he passes on his knowledge to the most disadvantaged.