Poulet à la Crème

This recipe for a casserole of chicken in a rich cream and calvados sauce comes from Normandy.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1¼ - 1½ hours
Serves 4 - 6

1 chicken (1.4 - 1.8kg) 
1 Spanish onion 
50g cooked ham or lean bacon
Salt and black pepper
4 tablespoons calvados
1 dessertspoon finely chopped celery leaves
275ml dry still cider or unsweetened apple juice
2 large egg yolks
150ml double cream

Garnish:

2 dessert apples
25g unsalted butter


1. Peel and finely chop the onion, and dice the ham or bacon after removing the rind. 

2. Wipe the trussed chicken inside and out with a clean damp cloth and set the giblets aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

3. Melt the butter in a pan over moderate heat and cook the onion until soft and transparent. Stir in the ham or bacon and cook for another 2-3 minutes. 

4. Brown the chicken lightly all over in the butter. Warm the calvados  in a small pan and set alight (it will produce a fair amount of flame). While the spirit is still flaming, pour it over the chicken. Shake the pan gently until the flames die out. 

5. Add the chicken neck, gizzard and heart to the pan, but omit the liver. Sprinkle in the chopped celery leaves and pour over the cider or apple juice; let it come to the boil, then simmer for a few minutes. Turn the chicken on its side and cover the pan closely with foil and then a lid. Cook over low heat. (If necessary, put the contents in a casserole and cook at 165°C in the centre of the oven.)

6. After 20-25 minutes cooking turn the chicken over on the other side and cook for a similar period, still covered. Finally, turn the chicken breast upwards, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.

7. Lift the chicken on to a warm serving dish and keep hot. Strain the liquid, and reduce slightly by fast boiling. Remove the pan from the heat. Beat together the egg yolks and the cream; mix in a few spoonfuls of the warm liquid, and whisk into the pan juices. Stir over low heat until the sauce has thickened.

8. While the chicken is cooking, peel and core the apples for the garnish. Cut them, without breaking, into 2cm thick rings. Melt the butter in a small pan and fry the apple rings until golden brown, turning once.

9. Just before serving, pour the hot sauce over the chicken and garnish with the apple slices. Little more than a green salad is needed, but boiled potatoes could also be served.

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