Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Poule in the Pot is worth...

On Sunday I put a boiling poule into a pot with a bouquet garni and tried to remember, more-or-less, the recipe for poule au pot. You'll be impressed to hear that I made my own bouquet with garden-grown herbs all tied up with twine. I was impressed, anyway...

It's a recipe that goes back to Henri IV who liked it so much that he said everyone should eat it once a week, and I've read that he provided the wherewithal for everyone to indeed eat it once a week. Not sure I believe that... Anyway, if he did, the peasants of the land would have been delighted to vary their diet of boiled cabbage and indulge in such rich offerings - a chicken! Per week! Luxury indeed! Not so luxurious in these decadent times. I bought two in a special offer of 4Eur the pair. You won't be surprised to hear they were not organic...

The real recipe has them cooked with a stuffing. It has chicken livers, minced veal and such, but I didn't have any of that and was not going to brave the weather for bits 'n' bobs which the boys wouldn't eat anyway. After the bird had boiled for an hour or so (and while I'm on this subject isn't it the French who take the piss out us Brits because all our food is supposed to boiled?), I threw in lots of veggies including leeks, turnip, onion, carrots and celery and let it boil some more. Then I turned it off and we had something else for dinner...

Last night I wondered how I could persuade the boys to eat such an unappetising-looking meal. The bird, being boiled, is all white and disgusting, and the veggies are veggies so totally foul anyway. In the end I stripped the carcase, put the flesh and the veggies in a dish and covered the whole lot with bechamel enhanced with chicken stock. I believe you're supposed to serve it with Bearnaise sauce, but time was moving on, and there's only so much one is prepared to undertake at 8pm on a Monday evening after watching one's son do gym for ninety minutes!

After heating it up nicely in the oven I offered it to the boys with one of those '5 cereals/pulses' organic selections from Carrouf. Naturally, the veggies were discarded so I had to order them to be eaten with the usual incantations of '5-a-day' to total disinterest.

This evening, I was much sneakier, and whizzed the veggies to a purée with some of the sauce. They went down without a murmur!

Verdict: it was okay, but not something I'd want to eat every week. Obviously I wasn't doing it right, but then Henri VI had minions whose sole task was to provide him with food, and didn't have my boys glaring at him across the table because there was a pile of veggies on their plates...

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