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Poulet de Bresse


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Okay now I need to find one of these things. Is this eBay item what you're talking about?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...ssPageName=WDVW

That's it. A slightly different design, but exactly the same principle. It needn't fit the bird exactly; we often do a couple of little poussins side by side in ours.

The bird(s) ends up partially roasted, partially braised in its own juices.

And now -- off to Allard.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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I agree with Fat Guy that Georges Blanc, where we've eaten twice, has the best Poulet Bresse I've ever had!

It does taste completely different!

I'll cast another vote. Best chicken I ever had. Robyn

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John, one of my old-time Parisian gastronomic pals, an eccentric (but not wildly so) chap named Alain Weill told me a couple of months ago as we were lamenting the various gastronomic losses, that Allard remains unchanged. For some inexplicable reason I never have set foot in it. Let us know how you find it. Bon appetit.

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Allard was one of the very first restaurants I visited in Paris. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I had gone in the early 1980s. It was late springtime, we were in love, and Paris seemed to glow. We rented a flat on the Rue Jacob, at the Pl. Furstenburg end, near a tiny but wonderful market. Asparagus were in season, and I was charmed that the proprietor of the best vegetable stall was more than happy to discuss her product as we returned each day to buy. The flat had a minuscule kitchen, but it was equipped with every tool you could want, and none you didn't need.

There are only a few things I remember about that first meal at Allard: enormous asparagus, covered with the freshest butter I had ever tasted and perfectly tender. At a neighbouring table, a single woman had ordered duck with olives, which I believe is a speciality of the place. We couldn't understand how one person could consume a whole duck by herself (the olives made the bird look larger than it is), and were puzzled that she kept taking pieces from her dish and putting them under the table. Was it the French way to throw indigestible bits on the floor? We later realised that her dog was having a duck feast underneath the table.

We returned to Allard some 10 years later. It no longer had the same ethereal glow; the shock of the new was gone, and I have no doubt that the restaurant declined in performance, as restaurants tend to do. Nonetheless we enjoyed it. This time we ordered duck with olives. It was tasty, though just a bit oversalted. An American couple at the next table was so interested in the dish that we gave them some to try. Obviously, this is a dish to share.

John, I hope that your meal at Allard is as wonderful as that first one seemed to us.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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After visiting the closest thing to hell for a cat, complete with kennels of big barking hunting dogs lurching up and slamming their lumbering bodies against the fence in attempt to eat us (and we weren't even kitties!), we bid the kitty summer camp goodbye forever with a vow not to abandon our dear feline companion there, ever, and proceeded to a town called Vonnas, which is entirely consecrated to the Georges Blanc dynasty. Squares and streets names after his family members, etc. Statues of chickens everywhere. It came very close to Disneyland.

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We went to the inn where they have the fancy restaurant to ask about what they offer, and I was greeted by Georges Blanc's wife (I didn't realise it at the time, but I later saw her photo on the front of a cookbook in the Georges Blanc gift shop). She gave me some brochures. If we'd stayed another 3 minutes, we would have been greeted by the chef himself, since we saw him walking down the other side of the street from us from one of the kitchens down the street. I was tempted to approach him, but decided to wait for an official visit when I would have questions ready and be more elegantly dressed.

We decided to have lunch at his l'Ancienne Auberge, which is much more casual than the formal restaurant Georges Blanc.

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We had the cheapest menu, which had Poulet de Bresse a la creme for a €3 supplement. Lunch for two came to about €78, complete with a pot of Macon blanc and coffee.

The poulet:

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Although I've been avoiding rice lately, I ate it yesterday in order to fully appreciate the sauce. The rice was garnished with roasted garlic, part of the comb, and chevril. The comb wasn't very flavorful but edible and it gave a nice visual touch.

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In my opinion, the chicken was perfectly fine as chicken goes, but the sauce was what made the dish.

We proceeded to the Georges blanc gift shop after lunch. I passed on the opportunity to buy a new wardrobe of Georges Blanc clothing, complete with his name embroidered across my chest and on back pocket, and decided instead to pick up a cookbook. There were two that interested me. One had lots of gorgeous photos and cost €36, and had a Poulet de Bresse recipe. The other, "Cuisine en Famille", did not have any photos but had 4 recipes for Poulet de Bresse. I got the second one. It cost €22.

edit spellling of Georges

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)
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"the sauce was what made the dish"

funny how that always works! glad you agree that there is nothing more special than a AOC designation. a well raised poulet slaughtered at a age "correct" is more important than celebration/authentication.

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"the sauce was what made the dish"

funny how that always works! glad you agree that there is nothing more special than a AOC designation. a well raised poulet slaughtered at a age "correct" is more important than celebration/authentication.

I'm really not sure it always works like that, since I've had some pretty mangy free range birds in my day. :wink: Let me emphasize that it was a very good chicken as chickens go. And the sauce, well it was divine. The flavor of the sauce comes from the bird, of course.

Now that you've so thoughtfully mentionned it, I've done a little more research into the AOC standard. They are fed on milk products, sweet corn, and cereals only, and raised on lush grass free range. Age of slaughter are specified as follows:

Poulet de Bresse (avg weight - 1.2 Kg): 4 months

Poularde de Bresse (avg weight 1.8Kg): 5 months

Chapon de Bresse (avg weight 3Kg): 8 months

This could explain the Poularde Fricasee being especially flavorful. I have not looked for the Poularde or the Chapon, but will keep an eye out this week at the producers market.

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IMG_0422.JPG

We proceeded to the Georges blanc gift shop after lunch. I passed on the opportunity to buy a new wardrobe of Georges Blanc clothing, complete with his name embroidered across my chest and on back pocket, and decided instead to pick up a cookbook.

What a simple and unpretentious, but absolutely lovely presentation of the rice.

I too passed up on what I actually thought was a very handsome tie. I don't remember why, it may have been too expensive for my taste or we may have wanted to spend our money on pates and jams as gifts for friends. In those days you could bring jarred and canned meats into the US legally. I believe it was the peach jam with vanilla that was super, albeit premium priced. Anyway, the ties are the same ones worn by the waiters in the main restaurant. One Asian diner was sporting a Georges Blanc rooster tie that evening. When he noticed the waiters were wearing the same ties, he retreated into the rest room and returned without the tie. :biggrin:

In addition to at least two restaurants, Blanc operates two inns, or did at the time. The less luxurious rooms were in the buidling just over the shop. It very much resembles a theme park devoted to cuisine (and to Georges Blanc). There was a grassy square surrounded by Blanc establishments. When we were there, they also very proudly showed us a heliport installed in a field behind the main residence.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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When I went in October, we stayed in one of the cheaper rooms above the shop (perfectly acceptable room, if a bit on the pricey side. We did it for convenience's sake though, and the breakfast was very good). George Blanc's domination of Vonnas did strike me as being similar to Rick Stein's effect on Padstow, but I have no problem with that at all.

We had dinner in L'Ancienne Auberge, and the poulet a la grandmere Blanc as depicted above was delicious. I forget how the rice was done - was it just boiled rice with butter? It was simple, yet ideal for getting to grips with the sauce. It's all in the sauce, but as bleudauvergne points out, the bird has spent a good hour or so bubbling away flavouring that sauce. If nothing else, the AOC should provide the buyer with confidence that the chicken has been raised in a humane way to a reliable standard.

It was quiet in L'Ancienne Auberge on the midweek evening we were there - maybe only 3 or 4 couples, but Georges Blanc rocked in (presumably while things were a bit quiet in the main restaurant) to speak to a couple who were obviously his friends. On the way over he spoke to each couple in the restaurant, which I had to admire as he managed a good minute talking with us despite our schoolboy-standard french. Seemed like a nice guy on the basis of our in-depth chat! :laugh:

I bought Cuisine en Famille from his shop. It's been very good so far - helps my french food vocab and proved very easy to follow once I got attuned to the idioms.

PS

Edinburgh

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Yes, the recipe for that chicken is in the book we both bought, Philip, on page 137. For one bird of about 2kg, he uses 1 liter of thick fresh cream, 100 g. butter, an onion, 10 white mushrooms, 2 cloves of garlic (unpeeled), a glass of white wine, a squeeze of lemon juice, & a bouquet garni. After crisping skin of the chicken in butter, and adding the quartered onion, mushrooms, garlic, bouquet garni, he deglazes with the white wine, then adds the the cream and simmers until he's ready to strain it. Just before he serves it, he brightens it with the lemon juice, adjusts the seasoning and serves it. :smile:

edited to add a photo that was taken at Les Halles in Lyon:

IMG_0396.JPG

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)
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Great photo as ever Lucy - Les Halles in Lyon has got to be one of the finest markets on Earth! I wandered round there last October and wished I was staying self-catering rather than in an hotel...

Inspired by all this, I attempted an approximation tonight, using skin-on chicken breast fillets and half measures of the ingredients suggested in the book. It was pretty damn good, if I say so myself, although I think the chicken was a little bit overcooked and somewhat lesser to the Poulet de Bresse (a barn-reared beast from Angus in East Scotland, I'm afraid). Judging from your photo, I suspect the sauce has enjoyed a blitz from a bar blender to lighten it up a bit - that's what I did anyway, and it helped lift it. I didn't have any cock's combs either. :sad:

I feel a pleasant glow of success tonight - cooking in French! If my high school french teacher could see me now! :laugh:

PS

Edinburgh

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Philip - About the chicken coming out dry, I've noted that Blanc recommends leaving the breast on the carcass until just before serving, for all of this Poulet de Bresse recipes, which could possibly contribute to its retaining more juices. It might be worth a try to do this the next time you prepare the dish with whatever kind of bird you use.

About the rice at the restaurant, it was plain buttered rice.

I did the fricasee with the fois gras sauce - EASY! The cooking temp is so hot I thought it was a typo but it works, it's easy, and it comes out beautifully. Don't be tempted to turn down the temp and don't overestimate the amount after the initial 15 mins covered in the hot oven. The time goes fast. I blended the fois gras with the butter in the blender - mainly because I wanted to make sure it was completely homogenized. I finished the sauce by incorporating the fois gras/butter with a whisk - to keep things less messy. The butter and fois gras thickened up the sauce like magic and it was a beautiful foamy beige color from both the deglazing and the fois.

Another thing to mention is the garlic. I didn't feel that the garlic had enough time to roast, according to the recipe. So I pierced all over the unpeeled bunch of cloves with a fork and gave it a minute on high in the microwave to get it started before tossing it in with the chicken after the initial 15 mins. I cooked it an additional 15, but it would have been fine with a final cooking of 10 minutes only after adding the wine (the final cooking time is not mentioned in Blanc's recipe. I estimated, because the oven temp was so high that it blasted searing heat in my face every time I opened the oven, I could not conceivably keep opening it up and checking the juices.)

I took photos up to the point where it went into the oven at the beginning but since I also had guests I was not organized enough to take photos in the last 5 minutes before serving. :sad:

I am going to do this again and get photos because the dish is really gorgeous, so simple, but beautiful in its simplicity. I served it on a platter with a big mound of rice in the center which I had initially stirred in hot goose fat before adding the cooking water to keep it from sticking. (I managed to get my serving without rice to remain reasonable in my efforts to stick to my personal regime).

It's worth noting that children adore this dish. As I finished the sauce, the 4 year old son of our guests was following my every move as he watched at the kitchen door, giving his commentary. As I removed the carrots, herbs, etc. and He said "Who's that for? I don't like sauce. What's that? I don't like fois gras. I don't like chicken." then he was served his part of a breast with rice and smothered in ample sauce. He went silent and then came out with a big smile and cheered "c'est SUCCULENT!" with his hands in the air in victory. :biggrin: A lovely child. :blush:

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)
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Allard was one of the very first restaurants I visited in Paris. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I had gone in the early 1980s.

In the early 80s, Allard was a 2 star Michelin restaurant, the only true bistro that I know of that ever received this rating. In the Lyonnais mere tradition, the reverse of what one normally sees in France, Fernande was in the kitchen and Andre managed the front of the house. Andre died relatively young and Fernande soldiered on in the kitchen, there was some decline and the restaurant lost a star. The restaurant lost another star and was eventually sold, and although it has always kept its same menu, the quality declined significantly. There have been recent reports that the restaurant has improved and is now quite good, but I haven't been in many years.

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Lucy - thanks for the translation advice! I tried it again with on-the-bone breast/wing pieces and it was much more succulent. I can see Cuisine en Famille getting much more use over the coming months. :smile:

I hope I've managed to stick my name in the signature below to avoid anyone having to call me by my username, which was chosen far too quickly - select in haste, repent at leisure. :blink:

PS

Edinburgh

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Allard was one of the very first restaurants I visited in Paris. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I had gone in the early 1980s.

There have been recent reports that the restaurant has improved and is now quite good, but I haven't been in many years.

For an unhappily negative response from a week ago, see my "Eating History" thread, immediately adjacent.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Allard was one of the very first restaurants I visited in Paris. My girlfriend (now my wife) and I had gone in the early 1980s.

There have been recent reports that the restaurant has improved and is now quite good, but I haven't been in many years.

For an unhappily negative response from a week ago, see my "Eating History" thread, immediately adjacent.

Link here

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For an unhappily negative response from a week ago, see my "Eating History" thread, immediately adjacent.

My old memories of Allard are so wonderful that I haven't seriously considered returning and risking further disappointments under the new regime. Thanks to your review, I absolutely will not return.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lucy - please remember us for photos the next time you make that dish. I have some foie in the freezer, so I might give it a shot.

I bought my first PdB yesterday and roasted it last night, Ducasse style. The breast meat was beautiful, fragrant, delicate. The thigh and leg meat though was slightly tougher than I expected. More fibrous. Of course, in the fancy places they usually only serve the breast - but what's the classical thing to do with these sorts of thighs? Throw them in the oven for another 10 minutes?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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My mother's time-honored poultry roasting technique involved cooking the dark meat for a little extra time after she carved the bird. Makes a lot of sense.

I have been looking for Poulet de Bresse here in the Loire, but can't find it anywhere. Maybe it doesn't get this far West.

Bruce

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My mother's time-honored poultry roasting technique involved cooking the dark meat for a little extra time after she carved the bird.  Makes a lot of sense.

The chicken brick method, which I've mentioned before, gets around this problem completely. The thighs end up simmering directly in their own juices, while the breast meat above is still being steamed. It's simply braising within a very small enclosed space. If you want crisp breast skin, a short blast with the lid off accomplishes it, but with a certain loss of juiciness. It's a trade-off.

EDIT: As a method of making chicken with forty cloves of garlic, it is unsurpassed.

The disadvantage of carving and then cooking further is that the juices have been released.

Edited by John Whiting (log)

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Great photo as ever Lucy - Les Halles in Lyon has got to be one of the finest markets on Earth! I wandered round there last October and wished I was staying self-catering rather than in an hotel...

Inspired by all this, I attempted an approximation tonight, using skin-on chicken breast fillets and half measures of the ingredients suggested in the book. It was pretty damn good, if I say so myself, although I think the chicken was a little bit overcooked and somewhat lesser to the Poulet de Bresse (a barn-reared beast from Angus in East Scotland, I'm afraid). Judging from your photo, I suspect the sauce has enjoyed a blitz from a bar blender to lighten it up a bit - that's what I did anyway, and it helped lift it. I didn't have any cock's combs either. :sad:

I feel a pleasant glow of success tonight - cooking in French! If my high school french teacher could see me now! :laugh:

i've been craving a roast chicken for ages, this has pushed me over the edge!

was just wondering about simmering the cream even though there's a lot of it (a litre of cream!!) is there not danger of splitting it?

did you just simmer it on the hob on a low flame?

cheers

gary

you don't win friends with salad

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Yes - just on the hob on a low flame. I'm not sure about the chemistry of all this, but maybe the fact that it's creme fraiche means that it doesn't split?

There is certainly a lot of creme fraiche involved, but it's worth it! I had quite a sizeable amount of sauce left over at the end, which proved to be a good sauce for serving up some sauteed mushrooms in the next day (and even for spreading for on some bread :shock::biggrin: )

PS

Edinburgh

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