Sunday’s Vintage Chicken | Petite Peche and Co.

Sunday’s Vintage Chicken

March 15th, 2011 | By Petite Peche and Co.

Sunday’s in France are dedicated to rest as the Boulangeries are often closed and much of the city, or village depending, lie in quietude. If you happen along a market you will see rows and rows of chickens piled high in these chicken roasters, ready to be used in a picnic or the evenings dinner. Resting aside however, the traditional Sunday meal of Roast Chicken is a less sleepy endeavor- certainly if not only by choice as there are dozens of varieties from which to choose.

After a whirlwind set of Provence tours last Fall, I spent the weekend with Laurence Bry, dear friend and proprietor of concierge based Provence Confidential, just outside Aix-en-Provence in her village of Eyguieres, her husband Jacques, his daughter Juliette, and their two hounds Ursula and Martini. Sunday morning, donning our French walking dress- ie Repetto flats and scarves- Laurence and I walked the most beautiful back roads up to the village in search of the perfect chicken for our Sunday lunch. Passing alongside fields of wildflowers, olive groves and backyard wineries we stopped on occasion to observe the wild herbs growing along the fence posts such as delicate thyme and fennel.

After briefly stopping for a cafe au lait- perhaps we had two- we meandered over to the butcher. I noticed, as we stood in the very long line, how each buyer carefully selected their bird- pointing out the exact one and proudly walking out with their treasure. Once we chose, Laurence described how she wanted it prepared and the butcher returned shortly- having removed the backbone and quartering him- with our white package tied up with string. We too left thrilled as we quickly made our way home, anxious to provide the chef with his goods-a fresh pluck of wild fennel in hand.   That afternoon we dined on { vintage } Cognac chicken with a beautiful celery root mash and roasted vegetables, washed down with a 20 year old Bordeaux that was superbe!

Certain other French traditions at play- that is keeping ones culinary secrets to oneself- I was left to imagine how Jacques might have made the base for that lovely black footed bird. I have prepared it in such a way as to come as close as I will ever come to one of the most beautiful days of my life- but more importantly I have come to realize that the experience of dining is a not merely a collection of taste- of eating exceptional ingredients- but of the sounds, conversational rhythms, and the formation and continuation of relationships that mean the most.  And that makes for a reason to celebrate our day of rest even more – giving the phrase “boring old chicken dinner” the heave ho and putting community back in its place.


Sundays’ Vintage Chicken

What you Need:

1 free-range chicken,  backbone removed and quartered ( you can ask your butcher to do this )

1 cup of aged cognac

2 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

6 cups of Chicken Stock

handful of button mushrooms, sliced thinly

salt and pepper to taste



Take chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper

In a heated large heavy cast enamel pot, add olive oil and saute both sides of chicken, removing to a platter once browned but not cooked through.

Once chicken is browned and set aside, remove pan and add in cognac- the heat allowing the liquid to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Once the bits have all been scraped from the bottom of the pot, add back the chicken and being careful to hold the pot away from anything flammable, take a long lighter and light the cognac quickly. As the congnac flares and flames, shake the pot gently to coat the chicken with the flambeed liquid. Once the flames die down- seconds usually- add in the chicken stock, lower the heat some and cover for twenty minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. A few minutes before serving add in the sliced mushrooms, allowing them to wilt from the heat but not overcook. Serve with potato puree or other such as celery root or cauliflower puree, rice or pasta.

And don’t forget to enjoy the pleasures of those around your table as much as the dish itself!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011 at 8:20 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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