Blanquette de Poulet
My mother was not that crazy about cooking however, every Sunday, this is what she made. So, of course, I grew very fond of it and now have to make it so as to remind myself about the good and sociable Sundays that she created around this dish. She teamed this up with fresh veggies or sometimes, I hate to say, canned, a nice salad and her really splendid rice, a sort of risotto. To top off our mid-Sunday repast, she served her excellent open faced apple tart or a zabaglione or some home made meringues with ice cream. To start off the whole affair, it was either a slice of cantaloupe or canned fruit cocktail. The cantaloupe would be doused by our European friends with sugar. So, now when I mention the canned stuff, you’ll know that the era was the 40’s and 50’s. This is not a complicated dish and it’s the sauce that makes it—or at least that’s what I think. Blanquette equates to a totally white sauce in French culinary terms. There is also a more famous version of the blanquette—Veal en Blanquette. The recipe for that is a bit different. Anyway, here’s to memories and I hope that you’ll enjoy this dish.
- 1 nice sized whole chicken, rinsed
- Water–enough to cover the whole affair
- 2 or 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 2-3 celery stalks, washed and cut in half or thirds
- 1 onion-peeled and cut into quarters
- Several cloves of garlic-peeled and chopped
- 3-4 sprigs of garlic
- Some peppercorns
- A couple sprigs of fresh thyme or tarragon or rosemary—your choice of one
- S&P to taste
- 2 Tblsp. flour
- 2 Tblsp. butter
- 1 C. heavy cream (but ½ and ½ will do it except it won’t taste as wonderful)
- 2 egg yolks put in a small bowl that will also hold the heavy cream
- 1/2 Lb. small mushrooms, sautéed in a bit of butter (optional)
- In a large pot, place the chicken, water to cover and the ingredients mentioned from item #3 through item #10. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for at least one hour or till chicken is done. (You can also put all of these ingredients except the carrots in a large cheesecloth bag and place that in the stock).
- Set aside the chicken and carrots. Strain the stock, discard the strained ingredients (or the cheesecloth bag) and put the stock back in the pot.
- Bring stock to a boil and reduce to a slower boil until broth is reduced about 2/3rds.
- In a small bowl, cream the butter and flour (I do this with a fork) and add a bit of the hot broth and mix well till smooth and no lumps remain.
- Add the flour/butter mixture to the broth in the pot and boil 1-2 minutes.
- In the meantime, mix the cream with the yolks with a whip. If you wish, you can add some lemon juice to this mixture. As I remember, mother didn’t.
- Reduce heat of broth till barely simmering and add the cream/yolk mixture. DO NOT LET BOIL or it will curdle (YUK!)
- Whip the broth until it’s nice a smooth.
- Place the chicken on a platter with the mushrooms and carrots around and pour the sauce over all. Or if you would rather, serve the chicken, carrots and mushrooms plain and put the sauce in a gravy boat and let your guests pour the sauce themselves on their individually plated dishes.
P.S. There are many other excellent and a bit more complicated recipes for Blanquette de Poulet however the one I gave you is the one my mother made and frankly, I enjoyed the simplicity of it because it made the sauce really stand out.