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Poulet de Bresse

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127 replies to this topic

#1 bobsdf

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 01:23 PM

Article here.

#2 Pan

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 02:02 PM

From the article:

Canadian officials have ruled that French poultry slaughter practices do not meet Canadian standards, so no French chickens -- not even the gourmet Bresse variety -- can be imported.


That strikes me as very odd, but the specifics of this are not addressed. What specific complaints do Canada - and the U.S, also mentioned in the article as banning the importation of Bresse chickens - have with French poultry slaughter practices?

#3 Marlene

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 02:09 PM

Pretty soon, every country will ban every other country's food and we'll all be stuck eating only what we produce internally. :biggrin:
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#4 menton1

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 02:53 PM

Jacques Pépin has long touted Bourg-en-Bresse chickens as the best anywhere; He grew up in that town as well.

If you haven't read Pépin's book The Apprentice, it's a wonderful read, and the first 50 pages are about life in Bourg-en-Bresse!!

How silly of those Canadian authorities!

#5 Pan

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 03:01 PM

Silly? I think so! But I still want to know what their reasoning is.

#6 menton1

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 03:04 PM

Silly? I think so! But I still want to know what their reasoning is.

You'll just have to get on the next flight to Lyon!! :biggrin:

#7 Pan

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 03:23 PM

Um, menton, how does getting on a flight to Lyon explain the Canadian authorities' objections to French poultry-slaughtering procedures?

#8 Nick

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 04:14 PM

Since these are also banned in the US, it could be a conspiracy to keep North American consumers from tasting a chicken that's been raised right. If French slaughtering practices are a problem, Georges Blanc could just bring along a few live ones and slaughter them in Canada. :biggrin:

#9 Bux

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 05:08 PM

To keep us focused,

Canadian officials have ruled that French poultry slaughter practices do not meet Canadian standards

The United States has also refused to allow imports of the poultry.


It's my understanding that live chickens may, and have been imported, but as young chickens to be raised her on this side of the Atlantic. To qualify for the appellation d'origine controlee of course, the chickens have to be raised in France according to strict conditions.

By law, a farmer must provide at least 10 square metres per chicken on which it hunts for worms, snails and other food.


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#10 pirate

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 06:40 PM

I don't agree with banning French chickens but I also don't think they are the best in the world. The best chicken I've had in the past few years has been in Japan (not imported). In fact I was rather disappointed by a poulet de Bresse (so labeled on menu) I had at Guy Savoy.

#11 Pan

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 06:56 PM

By far the best chickens I've ever had were free-range village chickens in Malaysia.

#12 Revallo

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 07:38 PM

I find this whole story very odd, I'm sure most of you have head all of the horror stories about the GMO pumped "chicken" that KFC uses :angry: (i.e. chickens that are bred with out feet, beeks and feathers to cut down on processing and that live in cages and are hooked up to needles-for easy feeding) and to say that the french producers aren't up to our standerds...
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#13 Bux

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 07:49 PM

Once again, to discuss the problem, one has to understand the problem and there's problem with the quality or health or nutritional aspects of the chickens. It's a matter of the slaughtering. I am totally ignorant of Canadian laws regarding importation of meat, but my understanding is that you cannot import meat into the US unless it's approved by the Department of Agriculture and you can't get that approval unless the slaughter house has a USDA inspector in residence. Naturally the cost of his salary is borne by the slaughter house. This is just a part of the law. Arguing that the meat is tastier, healthier or better in any way is not germane to the reasons it is banned. French chickens are not banned, it's just not economical to import such a small number of them legally.
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#14 Nick

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 08:07 PM

.....and you can't get that approval unless the slaughter house has a USDA inspector in residence. Naturally the cost of his salary is borne by the slaughter house.

To the best of my knowledge, the USDA inspector is paid by the government.

#15 Bux

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 09:01 PM

.....and you can't get that approval unless the slaughter house has a USDA inspector in residence. Naturally the cost of his salary is borne by the slaughter house.

To the best of my knowledge, the USDA inspector is paid by the government.

Hmm, I've been led to believe the reason we can't get any real Spanish hams is because it doesn't pay for them to have a USDA inspector. There are several scenarios that might make us both right. It could be that there's some sort of permit required before the USDA sends a man there and that there's a minimum fee for the permit that's prohibitive for a small operation, or it could be that the rules are different for foreign slaughter houses.

It's one thing to have a local inspector in every domestic slaughter house. It's another to provide one in an overseas slaughter house just because they say they are thinking of exporting a few hams to the US.
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#16 Nick

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 06:42 AM

I was refering to US slaughterhouses, but you're right, we're obviously not going to pay for USDA inspectors in other countries.

#17 Bux

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 07:03 AM

My guess is also that US slaughter houses pay quite a bit in operating fees to various governmental agencies. I've never been involved in a slaughter house, but every business with which I've been invovled has its share of paperwork, fees and taxes.
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#18 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 08:58 AM

Robb Walsh has an interesting piece on visiting Bourg-en-Bresse, including an interview with a Bresse chicken farmer. It's in his new book, Are You Really Going To Eat That?

#19 Bux

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 09:41 AM

Robb Walsh has an interesting piece on visiting Bourg-en-Bresse, including an interview with a Bresse chicken farmer. It's in his new book, Are You Really Going To Eat That?

More information on Are You Really Going To Eat That? at amazon.com or ecookbooks.com

Richard, is there any snippet of humor or interest to this discussion you can excerpt or summarize for us as a mini review?
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#20 slkinsey

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 09:51 AM

I'm sure most of you have heard all of the horror stories about the GMO pumped "chicken" that KFC uses :angry:

It's a complete crock.
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#21 menton1

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 02:26 PM

My guess, Bux, is that this has to be an issue of economics rather than food safety. The French certainly have as good if not better food safety standards as in North America; maybe if this were a third world country it would make more sense from a safety standpoint.

We need a Q & A with Jacques Pépin! (I love that guy!)

#22 Bux

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 02:43 PM

My guess, Bux, is that this has to be an issue of economics rather than food safety. The French certainly have as good if not better food safety standards as in North America; maybe if this were a third world country it would make more sense from a safety standpoint.

We need a Q & A with Jacques Pépin! (I love that guy!)

Economics may play a factor, but the article referred to Canadian slaughter house standards not being met in France. We don't know exactly what standards are not being met and in fact it may only be that there's not a Canadian inspector there to verify a standard. In that case it doesn't matter whether the French standards are higher than the Canadian ones. I am of course, just speculating, but it can also be a case of having different standards or of the French not meeting some dumb standard that is nothing but the result of successful lobbying by a Canadian manufacturer or supplyer of some arcane product.

Years ago, it was illegal to sell, or maybe import, beer in anything but brown bottles in Puerto Rico. That was the result of successful efforts by someone whose competitor was going to import Heineken. They made brown bottles for the Heineken beer, but they lost a distictive edge and brand recognition. We'd be foolish to assume all laws are made for the common good or that they are all reasonable.
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#23 menton1

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 10:41 AM

That's true, it could also be about bureaucrats perpetuating the bureaucracy, or better, justifying their occupations!

#24 Bux

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 02:46 PM

That's true, it could also be about bureaucrats perpetuating the bureaucracy, or better, justifying their occupations!

Which is what they do best.
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#25 bleudauvergne

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Posted 02 July 2004 - 12:58 AM

I buy a Poulet de Bresse every once in a while, I'd say twice a month. The prices the other day were €8.60/kilo (about $4.75/lb.), about the price of the free range chickens I can get from the butcher. I've tried several ways to cook them, from putting them on the spit to slow braising, and I have yet to prepare a Poulet de Bresse that takes me to that higher plane. More often than not, it tastes like - chicken. Plain old normal regular chicken. The skin is pretty, that's about it. Wondering if because I am getting smaller ones (cooking for two) - thus younger, and less flavorful birds?

What's the best way to choose a Poulet de Bresse? Can anyone share their memorable experiences being served Poulet de Bresse in a restaurant, and how was it prepared? Is there anything else I should know about them to help me the next time I pick one up?

Thanks in advance
Lucy

#26 Fat Guy

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Posted 02 July 2004 - 01:31 AM

The Bresse chicken we had at Georges Blanc a few years ago was quite memorable. It seemed identifiably different from any other chicken we'd had in France and altogether different from American chickens. It was probably a 4-5 pound bird. Half of it split between two people was a lot of food.

I'm pretty sure it was prepared as a fricassee, but it didn't have the same properties as when I prepare a fricassee. Blanc doesn't allow the chicken to acquire any significant color in the sautee phase, and in the covered cooking phase he seems to keep things pretty wet. By American standards his chicken is also a bit undercooked, but this definitely allows the flavors to carry -- I imagine if you took his chicken up another few degrees in doneness it would lose much of its subtlety.

The sauce, consisting of about a kilogram of foie gras and butter per person, also helped.

In any event, given Blanc's lofty status in the Bresse chicken universe, I would think that his methods would be a place to start. If there are unique properties of the Bresse chicken that can be brought out through cooking, surely he has given the matter more thought than most anybody else. I've only flipped through his two English-language books, but I know he has done something like ten cookbooks in French.

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#27 John Whiting

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Posted 02 July 2004 - 01:49 AM

Next week we're hoping to experience the roast chicken at Allard in Paris, which has apparently been memorable for at least half a century. If it actually tastes better than what we regularly produce with Sheepdrove organic birds cooked in a chicken brick, it will be the first time ever.
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#28 Boris_A

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Posted 02 July 2004 - 02:15 AM

My experiences with p.d. Bresse are mixed. Sometimes it's clearly better, sometimes it's just normal. It's either me or the chicken. I usually blame the chicken. (A kingdom (or at least a horse) for reliable supply lines.)

Another famous species is "Poularde de Houdan", but I never made it to buy one. I know an importer who supplies half of the luxury restaurants here around (lamb from the pyrenees, wonderful matured beef filets, great prok, poulardes, ...), price is ok but supply is limited and being a private client, I not only have to go there, but I have to take the left-over. Living in the basement of the food pyramide, you know.

I just PMed (copyright issue) a most simple recipe for sauteed chicken. Simple recipes are unforgiving wrt. to raw material. It's a litmus test.
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#29 bleudauvergne

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Posted 02 July 2004 - 04:21 AM

The Bresse chicken we had at Georges Blanc a few years ago was quite memorable. It seemed identifiably different from any other chicken we'd had in France and altogether different from American chickens. It was probably a 4-5 pound bird. Half of it split between two people was a lot of food.

I'm pretty sure it was prepared as a fricassee, but it didn't have the same properties as when I prepare a fricassee. Blanc doesn't allow the chicken to acquire any significant color in the sautee phase, and in the covered cooking phase he seems to keep things pretty wet. By American standards his chicken is also a bit undercooked, but this definitely allows the flavors to carry -- I imagine if you took his chicken up another few degrees in doneness it would lose much of its subtlety.

The sauce, consisting of about a kilogram of foie gras and butter per person, also helped.

In any event, given Blanc's lofty status in the Bresse chicken universe, I would think that his methods would be a place to start. If there are unique properties of the Bresse chicken that can be brought out through cooking, surely he has given the matter more thought than most anybody else. I've only flipped through his two English-language books, but I know he has done something like ten cookbooks in French.

George Blanc, born and raised in Bourg en Bresse. His recipe - This is the one, yes?

Fricassée de poularde de Bresse aux gousses d'ail et au foie gras

What's making it different from the regular fricassee in this recipe is that the bird is not fully carved before cooking, only removing the legs. He leaves the breasts on the carcass during the whole cooking process, and carves the bird just before serving.

Your comment on being careful not to overcook the bird is noted.

He uses a lot less fois gras and butter than you were served :wink: , 100 grams of fois gras and 120 grams of butter for the whole bird in the above recipe - could this be the same recipe I wonder?

He mentions serving it with potato "crepes" (click), or a fresh vegetable in season. FG, do you remember what your dish was served with?

Next week we're hoping to experience the roast chicken at Allard in Paris

Hi John, I hope you have a memorable experience.

My experiences with p.d. Bresse are mixed. Sometimes it's clearly better, sometimes it's just normal. It's either me or the chicken. I usually blame the chicken. (A kingdom (or at least a horse) for reliable supply lines.)


Boris, I'm not sure supply lines have everything to do with it, I'm buying direct from the supplier who comes down from Bourg en Bresse (It's about an hour drive from here) to sell them at the producers' market... And I also get mixed results, i.e. poulet de bresse on the roti's nothing to write home about.

However I do accept your point. If you want us to swing through and get a couple direct from the farm on the way up to dinner with you we'll be happy to do it. I'm sorry I'm allergic to Horse but anything else from your illustrious fourneau will be fine, as long as it's accompanied by some of that fabulous wine you've been bragging about. :laugh:

I just PMed (copyright issue) a most simple recipe for sauteed chicken. Simple recipes are unforgiving wrt. to raw material. It's a litmus test.

Thank you Boris, I've got the recipe, I'll try it but I'm taking pictures so warn your friend... :rolleyes:

Please post more memorable experiences with Poulet de Bresse - I am trying to formulate a really strong theory on the best ways to cook this bird, and why - I need more collective experience to draw from...

#30 MobyP

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Posted 02 July 2004 - 04:49 AM

Lucy -

I thought you might be interested in the Ducasse Method, while we're looking. What i find interesting about the recipe is the respect given to the bird - the rotating, the basting, the resting afterwards. I started following this as a basic method, and especially with delicately flavoured birds, I found the results vastly improved.

Also, I recently had a meal at L'Ambroisie where they brought two PdB 'avec l'herbes' to the next table. I tried to reproduce it at home (with a similar style bird), and had fantastic results. Having made a mixture off thyme, tarragon, parsley, and a touch of rosemary, salt and pepper, and mixed it with about 150g of butter, I cooled the mixture, then put it under the breast skin, and (here was something new) left the birds like this in the fridge for a couple of hours. After they'd been roasted and rested, the perrfume of the herbs came through beautifully.

I think, as with all things, if it's the delicateness of the flesh that you want to enjoy, you don't want to smother it with too many other powerfully flavoured ingredients.

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