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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Poulet rôti à la normande

If there were a blog or a film entitled Dulcimer & Julia -- and I assure you neither is forthcoming anytime soon -- it wouldn't be about me carefully following her recipes to the letter over the course of a year. I am neither disciplined nor obedient enough for that kind of endeavor. Rather, it would consist of me making substitutions, blunders, and shortcuts to try to achieve Julia-esque results with a little less fuss and slightly clearer instructions

So here's my version of her poulet rôti à la normande. Instead of trussing the chicken with a mattress needle, I tied it up modern-home-cook style. And, because I am lazy and I couldn't figure out how to do it safely, I didn't turn the chicken on its side as it roasted. And instead of tarragon and thyme, I seasoned the stuffing with herbes de Provence. Finally, instead of using chicken livers and other organs for stuffing, I used . . . drumroll, please . . . bacon. I know, it may have been overly decadent. But you can't go wrong with bacon.

Or can you?

You should be warned that, although I've simplified this recipe a bit, it still requires some serious basting action. You'll want to make sure that you can stay by the oven for more than an hour, as you will be basting every eight to ten minutes. But the taste is worth it.

Poulet rôti à la normande

1/2 to 3/4 pound bacon (thick-cut or slab bacon would be nice here), cut into chunks
1 shallot or 2 Tbsp green onions
2/3 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp cream cheese
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp herbes de Provence, or a combination of thyme and tarragon
2-3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon. When it's beginning to look somewhat cooked (but not crispy yet), add the shallot or green onions and sauté until softened and slightly brown around the edges. Leaving most of the bacon fat in the skillet, pour the bacon and onion mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, cream cheese, 1 Tbsp of the butter, and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3 pound roaster chicken, whole
2-3 Tbsp butter
several teaspoons of kosher salt
a few pieces of cut-up carrots, celery, and onions (whatever you have on hand)
3 Tbsp chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
lemon juice to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rub the chicken cavity lightly with salt and loosely fill with the stuffing. Bend and tuck wings behind the chicken's back (when the breast is up, the chicken's back will be resting on the wings). Tie legs together tightly. If any "tail" meat or skin is hanging down, tuck it up under the legs. This will keep moisture (and the stuffing)inside the chicken.

Pat the chicken dry, and rub all over with 1 Tbsp butter, then follow with kosher salt. Place chicken in a roasting pan and scatter cut-up vegetables around it (these will help to flavor the sauce). Roast at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and brush with more butter (when juices begin to accumulate in the pan, you can baste with these, but until that happens you need to baste with butter or olive oil).

Continue roasting for 55 to 65 minutes, basting every 8 to 10 minutes. About 10 minutes before the end of the estimated roasted time, begin basting with 2 to 3 tablespoons of cream every 3-4 minutes until the chicken is done. Remove pan from oven and transfer chicken to a carving board. Loosely tent with foil and let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add chicken stock and bring pan juices to a boil on the stove. Boil rapidly for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping up any brown bits. Just before serving, remove from heat and stir in additional cream (if desired). Add a small amount of lemon juice to taste.

Serve chicken with a small amount of stuffing on the side and sauce poured on top. Sautéed mushrooms and peas are a wonderful accompaniment to this dish.

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

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