Friday, October 21, 2011

A $36.00 Chicken and a Culinary Journey in Massachusetts


So what is for dinner? Why do I always feel like that is what I am asking myself on my days off of work. Work days I feel no obligation to come up with something good but the days I am home I feel like I am a sluggard if I don't come up with a culinary delight.

So enter a 8lb chicken that is in the freezer and has some ice on it. This is no ordinary chicken. It is a $36.00 chicken. I told you the story before so I won't repeat myself. I am getting ahead of myself again though. You see, I had a Skype date with Cathy (Mrs. Wheelbarrow) to teach me how to tie the Deux Rag (French Schmatta) that she sent me. I was honored because it is all part of a Meat Girl thing. Kate Hill of Kate Hill's Gascon Kitchen is the true grand Poo Ba of Meat and Gascony, and French, and and... everything.

So see her Deux Rag Schmatta? That is the one that Cathy sent to ME. So I waited until the agreed upon time and we Skyped. Cathy taught me how to tie my hair up. I don't know why she kept laughing when I did it. Dr. Food was looking at me like I had a problem or something. Then he laughed and laughed. This is me in my new Schmatta.


Wait, I look more like a Lopear rabbit than a Meat Girl.


Ok, I am working on it.

So in honor of Kate and Deux Rags and Chickens, I pulled out Kates book A Culinary Journey in Gascony and decided on "Vetou Pompele's Classic "Poule au Pot"


I was very happy that the recipe called for prosciutto and ventreche. HEY! I have both of those in my freezer.

See? The chicken and the ventreche.


Herbs and stuff.


Stuffing a chicken is a bit weird. I don't think I have ever done this before.


Sewing a chicken closed is even weirder. You know how hard it is to get through that tough skin and have it all slippery and stuff. Not easy holding onto a needle. I had to hold the chicken against me to sew it up. Ew, I had chicken schmootz all over my good sweatshirt (read: good sweatshirt is the one that has holes in it from washing it so much. I love sweatshirts so so much. You can ask anybody that knows me. I even stole all my son-in-laws sweatshirts. The bigger they are on me the better. I am a Hobo at heart).


I shoved stuffing under the skin too. Mr. Chicken got a little top heavy and decided to recline. I did NOT pose this chicken for a picture people. This was candid I swear.


Into the pot it went. I then cut up more vegetables to be added later.


and even more vegetables (see? not everything is about meat of some sort)


After soaking in the hot tub for about 3 hours (this is a LARGE chicken and it takes a while) Mr. Chicken is done.


So although it looks a bit anemic I have to say that it was Tres Bonne! (is that how you say it?)


It was chicken, stuffing and vegetables all in one pot. I feel so french.


Oh, by the way... I practiced the Deux Rag thing.


Now I look like Aladdin and not a bunny.

[from Kate Hill. A Culinary Journey in Gascony.(Berkley: Ten Speed Press,2004)]

(serves 6 to 8)
1 6 to 8 pound stewing hen
salt and pepper

1 thick slice salt-cured, air-dried ham--jambon de Bayonne or prosciutto
3/4-inch slice ventreche, pancetta or salt port
chicken gizzard,heart and liver
1 loaf stale French bread, crust removed
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 shallots, chopped finely
some chicken fat from under the skin, minced very finely
4 eggs

bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, and parsley)
1 pound leeks
1 pound carrots
1 pound onions
1 bunch celery
2 to 3 turnips
2 to 3 zucchini
3 to four tomatoes
1 handful short vermicelli or other small pasta

1. Wash and dry the hen, then salt and pepper its cavity. Next, prepare the stuffing, as follows.

2. Chop the meats into small pieces. After soaking the bread in the milk and nutmeg, squeeze out the excess liquid and drain. Season the bread with pepper (salt isn't necessary because of the ham) and parsley. Add the onion, garlic, and shallots. Add the chopped meat and minced fat. Beat the eggs and ad to the mixture. Work the stuffing well with your hands (like kneading dough) until all has been carefully mixed.

3. Stuff the chicken's cavity. After loosening the skin from the breast meat, stuff under the skin as well.

4. Sew the cavity openings together with a large needle and heavy thread. The hen should be carefully closed with no stuffing escaping. Take small stitches, pulling the skin over the openings carefully as you sew.

5. Put the stuffed and sewn hen in a very large stockpot half-filled with hot water. Add enough water to cover the bird. Add a generous bouquet garni. Bring to a boil then simmer gently over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add the leeks and carrots.

6. Cook slowly for an hour, then add the onions, celery,turnips and zucchini. When the bird is nearly done (2 1/2 to 3 hours total time), add a few tomatoes to give the broth a rich golden color.

7. Pour some of the bouillon, enough for a soup, into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add a handful of pasta or tapioca. When the pasta is cooked, serve the soup as the first course.

8. After removing the chicken from the remaining broth, let drain, carve, and serve on a platter with some of the vegetables and with the stuffing cut into slices.


  1. OMG...Fabulous post!!!

  2. Bravo on the rag head thing....never heard of it before but it looks good (especially the second picture. It's très bon, just so you know. No extre ne on there. I've never stuffed a chicken either, but you make it look like something I need to try. Hope you feel better soon! Seriously.

  3. Absolutely fabulous J! What a great tribute to the classic Poule-au-Pot...and my hair makeup, I mean Doux Rag, which was a pass down from old Caribbean friend Marty Peet. What goes around, goes around. Keep the woad blue tiara alive.

  4. you are definitely a sweatshirt hoarder! I'm not a huge fan of chicken that's boiled but I bet it was tasty!

  5. Amazing job! Love the look!

  6. That chicken looks fat, drunk and happy. Hmmm...would make a perfect mate for the sexy bird that was in the NY Times. Just think of the sexy little chicklets those two would make.

    I am a sweatshirt girl myself. I've got way too many, according to my husband, but I love 'em.  You and I should team up one day to do some cooking.  Between your head schmatta and my cooking wardrobe (aka schmatta) we could do all kinds food schmootzing and what not.

    Love the dish!

  7. Can you imagine what trouble you and I could get into? Come on over!

  8. I love ya Kate. You are amazing.

  9. You sure about that ne on bonne? Hmmmm 7 years of French got me nowhere. You need to stuff a chicken. You would like it!

  10. Your chicken journey brought laughs as always! Looks like a great meal for this time of year too.

  11. OMG this chicken looks incredible, and I LOVE the deux rag/'re adorable.