Recently my PBS station aired a special about how Julia Child influenced many of today’s well-known chefs as well as the viewers who watched the shows. This special made me realize that I, too, had learned many cooking skills from her shows. Growing up I learned some basic Italian recipes from my mother and father (Italian men like to cook.) but not the kind of food America was eating when I got married. My mother was not an enthusiastic cook and tended to make the same things every week. My father would make things she did not like, such as rabbit or crab in spaghetti sauce. So as a young wife I liked cooking but needed to know more. It was about that time that Julia’s shows came onto PBS. There were no other cooking shows on TV at that time. While her recipes highlighted French cooking, she did focus on skills. I learned how to cook a whole chicken, prepare fish and make good sauces from watching her shows. If you have never made her chicken recipe, give it a try. It comes out moist and full of flavor.
Poulet Poele a l’Estragon
(Casserole- Roasted Chicken)
1 (3-4 pound) roasting chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 shallot, halved
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup sliced carrots
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 cups brown chicken stock, or 1 cup canned beef broth and 1 cup canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons port wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon (or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon)
1 tablespoon softened butter
Preheat oven to 325° F. Thoroughly dry the chicken. Season the cavity of the chicken with the salt, tarragon and 1 tablespoon of butter. Insert the shallot and rub the remaining tablespoon of butter on the outside of the chicken. Tie legs together with kitchen string.
Heat a heavy, fireproof casserole dish or pot over medium-high heat. Add butter and oil. When the butter foam has begun to subside, lay in the chicken, breast down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, regulating the heat so butter is always very hot but not burning. Carefully turn the chicken to another side, using 2 wooden spoons. Be sure not to break the chicken skin. Continue browning and turning the chicken until it is a nice golden color almost all over, particularly on the breast and legs. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. Add more oil if necessary to keep the bottom of the casserole filmed.
Remove chicken from the pan and set aside. Pour out the browning fat if it has burned, and add fresh butter. Cook the carrots and onions slowly in the casserole for 5 minutes without browning. Add the salt and tarragon.
Salt the chicken and place it breast up over the vegetables. Baste with the butter in the casserole. Lay a piece of aluminum foil over the chicken, cover the pan, and reheat it on top of the stove until you hear the chicken sizzling. Then place the casserole/pan in the preheated oven.
Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Baste once or twice with the butter and juices in the casserole. The chicken is done when the drumsticks move in their sockets, and when juices run clear.
Remove the chicken to a serving platter and discard trussing strings. Combine the cornstarch with ¼ cup of the chicken broth and the port wine and set aside. Add the remaining broth to the casserole and simmer for 2 minutes, scraping up coagulated roasting juices. Blend in the cornstarch mixture, simmer a minute, then raise heat and boil rapidly until the sauce is lightly thickened. Stir in tarragon and butter.
Serve chicken with sauce. Good sides are peas, potatoes, asparagus, carrots or broiled tomatoes.
The recipe above is from Julia Child’s, Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume One, Pages 249-251.
You can watch the original episodes on Amazon Prime Video or your local PBS online site.
Amazon Season 1 Episode 3 Chicken Video is the recipe for Casserole-Roasted Chicken with Bacon, Onions, and Potatoes -a variation of the above recipe called Poulet en Cocotte Bonne Femme.