Business is slow so it is time for long walks in the Allogny forest, a 15 minutes’ drive from the Echalier. Having had a cold snap for the past few days, I wore my warmest woollen scarf and hicking boots and off I went having put on the back of the stove one of my favourite winter to dish. I call it soul food!
Hen in a pot, this traditional dish in France became one of Henri IV most famous political slogan, a king epicurean with a reputed enormous appetite… “All French people will eat hen in the pot every Sunday during my reign”, a political statement emanating from the King’s memories of the food he ate as a child in the Bearn region. Henri IV used to call in unexpected and eat in farms with the owners when he was travelling. As all farmyards always had chicken and peasants grew their own vegetables, the King try to get the message across that the future of France was in the farming community.
Here is the recipe for 4 people
Winter vegetables of the garden. 4 leeks washed, 4 large carrots peeled, celeriac pieces, turnips, onions, potatoes and parsnips
Herbs and spices: parsley, thyme, bay leaf, cloves
Plunge the hen in a large casserole with carrots, celeriac, turnips and parsnips… Salt and pepper… Bring it to the boil and then add the herbs and spices.
Using a ladle, take out the foam on top of the water when it start simmering to ensure a clear stock.
Put the potatoes and leeks when you come back from your walk and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Take out the hen and the vegetables out, keeping them warm in the hot oven.
Make a sauce by melting butter and mixing 3 soupspoons of flour to it… Pour the stock over it. When it thickens, you can finish the sauce with a mix of an egg yolk with cream. I like to add slice gherkins and a few capers to the sauce and chopped parsley.
Place the hen in the middle of the dish and the vegetable around. The sauce on the side and the hot stock with it.
I can’t wait for another cold Sunday with friends around the fireplace and feel lucky that I can indulge in such a glorious dish! Make sure however that all the ingredients are top… I have certainly found a hip of good producers and when you eat it you know that the simplest dishes can become sublime! Have a nice week-end!