Poulet au Porto
[Roast Chicken Steeped with Port Wine, Cream, and Mushrooms]
Chicken, cream, and mushrooms occur again and again, as it is one of the great combinations. This perfectly delicious recipe is not difficult, but it cannot be prepared ahead of time or the chicken will lose its fresh and juicy quality. The chicien is roasted, then carved, flamed in cognac, and allowed to steep for several minutes with cream, mushrooms, and port wine. It is the kind of idsh to do when you are entertaining a few good, food-loving friends whom you can receive in your kitchen.
Nothing should interfere with these special flavors. It would be best to serve only potatoes sauteed in butter, page 526, or a perfectly seasoned risotto, page 532. Peas, or asparagus tips, or braised onions, page 481, could be added if you feel the necessity for more vegetables.
Serve very good, chilled, white Burgundy such as a Meursault or Montrachet, or an excellent, chateau-bottled white Graves.
For 4 people
A 3-lb., ready-to-cook, roasting or frying chicken
Roast the chicken as described in the master recipe on page 240. Be sure not to overcook it.
1 lb. fresh mushrooms
Meanwhile, trim and wash the mushrooms. Quarter them if large, leave them whole if small.
A 2 1/2-quart enameled or stainless steel saucepan
1/4 cup water
1/2 Tb butter
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Bring the water to boil in the saucepan with the butter, lemon, and salt. Toss in the mushrooms, cover, and boil slowly for 8 minutes. Pour out the cooking liquid and reserve.
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 Tb cornstarch blended with 1 Tb of the cream
Salt and pepper
Pour the cream and the cornstarch mixture into the mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes. Correct seasoning, and set aside.
When the chicken is done, remove it to a carving board and let it rest at room temperature while completing the sauce.
1/2 Tb minced shallots or green onions
1/3 cup medium-dry port
The mushroom cooking liquid
The mushrooms in cream
Salt and pepper
Drops of lemon juice
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan. Stir in the shallots or onions and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the port and the mushroom juice, and boil down rapidly, scraping up coagulated roasting juices, until liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the mushrooms and cream and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the liquid to thicken slightly. Correct seasoning and add lemon juice to taste.
A fireproof casserole or a chafing dish
1 Tb butter
1/8 tsp salt
Smear the inside of the casserole or chafing dish with butter. Rapidly carve the chicken into serving pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and arrange in the casserole or chafing dish.
Set over moderate heat or an alcohol flame until you hear the chicken begin to sizzle. Then pour the cognac over it. Avert your face, and ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole slowly until the flames have subsided. The pour in the mushroom mixture, tilting the casserole and basting the chicken. Cover and steep for 5 minutes without allowing the sauce to boil. Serve.
(*) Chicken may remain in its casserole over barely simmering water or in the turned-off hot oven with its door ajar, for 10 to 15 minutes, but the sooner it is served, the better it will be.
Ragouts, Navarins, et Haricots de Mouton
In France, mutton rather than lamb is preferred for stews because the flesh of the more mature animal has more character. But, except for the tender-fleshed stewing cuts of "genuine spring lamb" which are best in a blanquette, lamb or mutton may be used interchangeably. Ragouts, navarin, and haricot all mean stew. Haricot according to most linguists is a corruption of halicoter, to cut up. It does not therefore mean a lamb stew with beans. Stew meat is very inexpensive; one can only wonder why, but be grateful when a dish like a navarin is so delicious. Other lamb stews may be made like beef stew, and suggestions are listed at the end of the navarin recipe.
CUTS FOR STEWING
All of the lamb for a stew may be from the same cut, but a more interesting texture and sauce will be obtained if you use a mixture from the following suggestions. Chop and leg meat are not recommended as they become dry and stringy. Count on 1 pound of boneless meat for 2 people if your menu is small; for 3, if large.
Shoulder — Epaule and Basses Cotes. Lean and meaty, a bit dry
Breast — Poitrine. Provides fat and texture
Short Ribs — Haut de Cotelettes. Provide fat and texture, and the bones give flavor
Neck — Collet. Has a gelatinous quality which gives body to the sauce.
PREPARATION FOR COOKING
Have excess fat and the fell or covering filament removed, and the meat cut into 2-inch cubes weighing 2 to 2 1/2 ounces. Any bones left in the meat will give added flavor to the sauce. Most of them may be removed before serving.
Allow about 2 hours for the cooking. Stews may be simmered on top of the stove but the more uniform and surrounding heat of the oven is preferable.
* NAVARIN PRINTANIER
[Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables]
Navarin printanier, a most delectable lamb stew with its carrots, onions, turnips, potatoes, peas, and green beans, is presumably done in the spring when all the vegetables are young and tender. But as it can be made any time of the year, it is not a seasonal dish any more thanks to deep freezing. Frozen peas and beans are discussed on pages 449 and 466. The written recipe is long as each detail is important if the navarin is to taste like a French masterpiece. But none of the steps is difficult and everything except the addition of the green vegetables at the very end may be made ready in the morning. The stew can then be finished in 10 to 15 minutes just before dinner time.
With the stew serve hot French bread, and a red Beaujolais or Bordeaux wine, a chilled rose, or a fairly full-bodied, dry, chilled white wine such as a Macon, Hermitage, or one of the lesser Burgundies.
For 6 people
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
3 lbs. Lamb stew meat (see list preceding recipe)
2 to 4 Tb rendered fresh pork fat or cooking oil
A 10- to 12-inch skillet
A fireproof covered casserole large enough to hold the meat, and all the vegetables to come
Cut the lamb into 2-inch cubes and dry with paper towels. The meat will not brown if it is damp. Brown a few pieces at a time in hot fat or oil in the skillet. As they are browned, place them in the casserole.
1 Tb granulated sugar
Sprinkle the lamb in the casserole with sugar and toss over moderately high heat for 3 to 4 minutes until the sugar has caramelized. This will give a fine amber color to the sauce.
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 Tb flour
Toss the meat with the salt and pepper, then with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle level of preheated oven for 4 to 5 minutes more. This browns the flour evenly and coats the lamb with a light crust. Remove casserole and turn oven down to 350 degrees.
2 to 3 cups brown lamb- or beef-stock or canned beef bouillon
3/4 lb. ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced, and chopped (1 cup of pulp), page 505; or 3 Tb tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 tsp thyme or rosemary
1 bay leaf
Pour out the fat; add 2 cups of stock or bouillon to the saute skillet. Bring to the boil and scrape up coagulated saute juices. The pour the liquid into the casserole. Bring to the simmer for a few seconds shaking and stirring to mix liquid and flour. Add the tomatoes or tomato paste and the other ingredients. Bring to the simmer for 1 minute, then add more stock if necessary; meat should be almost covered by liquid.
Put the lid on the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven; regulate heat so casserole simmers slowly and regularly for 1 hour. Then pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a bowl. Rinse out the casserole. Remove any loose bones and return the lamb to the casserole. Skim the fat off the sauce in the bowl, correct seasoning, and pour sauce back into casserole. Then add the vegetables which have been prepared as follows:
6 to 12 peeled "boiling" potatoes
6 peeled carrots
6 peeled turnips
12 to 18 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter
While the lamb is simmering, trim the potatoes into ovals 1 1/2 inches long, and cover with cold water until ready to use. Quarter the carrots and turnips, cut them into 1 1/2 inch lengths, and, if you have the patience, trim the edges to round them slightly. Pierce a cross in the root ends of the onions so they will cook evenly.
Press the vegetables into the casserole around and between the pieces of lamb. Baste with the sauce. Bring to the simmer on top of the stove, cover and return to the oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers slowly and steadily for about an hour longer or until the meat and vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven, tilt casserole, and skim off fat. Taste sauce again, and correct seasoning.
1 cup shelled green peas
1/4 lb. or about 1 cup green beans cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 quarts boiling water
1 1/2 Tb salt
While the casserole is in the oven, drop the peas and beans into the boiling salted water and boil rapidly, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are almost tender. Immediately drain in a colander. Run cold water over them for 2 to 3 minutes to stop the cooking and to set the color. Put aside until ready to use.
(*) May be prepared ahead to this point. Set casserole aside, cover askew. Bring to the simmer on top of the stove before proceeding with recipe.
Shortly before serving, place the peas and beans in the casserole on top of the other ingredients and baste with the bubbling sauce. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes or until the green vegetables are tender.
Serve the navarin from its casserole or arrange it on a very hot platter.
The preceeding navarin is a model for other stews. You may, for instance, omit the green beans, peas, and potatoes, and add navy beans or lentils simmered in salt water until almost tender, or canned kidney beans, then finish them off for half an hour with the lamb.
Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck with permission from Alfred A. Knopf. All rights reserved.