Archived in 2022

Originally posted on 13 Jan 2008

Has it really been more than a month since I posted? Criminy. Sorry about that, folks. I let myself get distracted by life and work and petty things like that. I’ll try to keep it from happening again.

It’s not surprising that it’s food that brings me out of my posting hibernation. Today’s inspiration was an accidental discovery. This weekend I wanted to cook a good hearty Coq Au Vin, the leftovers from which would supply dinners for the remainder of the week. I grabbed volume one of Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (thanks to my folks for getting these for me for my birthday last year!) and opened to page 263. There, on the facing page, was a recipe for Fondue De Poulet À La Creme, aka “Chicken Simmered with Cream and Onions.” Chicken? Cream? Onions? Ooh! And cognac! Screw that coq au vin crap. I’m making this.

As you can probably guess from the name of the dish, it is unapologetically high fat. The chicken and onions are sauteed slowly in butter and then simmered in 3/4 of a quart of heavy cream. Somewhere in there you add 1/3 a cup of cognac (or bourbon in my case, as I had no cognac in the house) and a couple of seasonings. It’s a very simple dish which is obviously sourced from French peasants. Like most recipes of like derivation it’s mind-blowingly delicious. By the time it’s done cooking the chicken is completely saturated with the cream and is falling apart. The sauce is beyond luscious. I admit I stood over the pan and ate a couple of spoonfuls of it as though it were soup. A damn fine soup, at that.

To accompany my chicken I started with wild rice. Not traditional, no, but the rice has been sitting in my cupboard waiting for a use and this seemed like the time to call it into action. It was prepared simply with butter, salt and parsley. The toothiness of the rice was a perfect foil to the tenderness of the chicken. Along with the rice I served a chicory. This was a beautiful vegetable and I regret not taking a photo of it. It had nice wide curly leaves which were a fabulous shade of light purple. First I steamed the leaves and then shocked them to retain the color. Then I finely diced and sauteed some Boccalone pancetta. Once those bits were crispy, in went the chicory until it was heated. Hit it with some fresh lemon juice and some salt and freshly ground pepper to add the finishing touches.

The entire meal was served with a 2004 Albariño from Bonny Doon. It was just acidic enough to cut through the cream but not too harsh as to collide with the chicory. The wine enhanced the food; the food enhanced the wine. Perfect. The only problem is that this is the only bottle of that wine that I had. *sigh* Life can be so cruel.

The best part of the meal? There’s enough chicken left that if I wanted I could have it for dinner every day this week. However, considering the fat content of the meal I’m likely to freeze much of it. There is, after all, such a critter as too much of a good thing.