What you need to know to really enjoy a poached chicken and floating islands…
Poule au pot farcie et ses légumes racine, sauce poulette
Iles flottantes à la vanille, langues de chat
Stuffed and poached chicken with root vegetables, creamed velouté
Vanilla floating islands with cat tongue cookies
My whole family loves these dishes: they are ultimate in comfort food. Light and very nourishing, but most of all, delicious, simple but part of a very traditional French cuisine dating from king Henry the 4th.
Here are some important notes about the poached chicken and why you should make it regularly.
“Poule au pot” is supposed to be made with a hen, which is tougher and needs a long cooking time. There is a story about Henry the 4th asking that everyone in France should have a hen boiling in a kitchen pot every Sunday, as a mean of prosperity of the Country.
This king was living in the 16th century…so it gives you an idea of how much this dish is rooted in French culture.
However, this dish might not have been as technically sophisticated as that time…
When you make this dish, you stuff and poach a bird. You make a roux (butter and flour) and a velouté sauce (roux plus stock and cream). You also cook your vegetables in salted boiling water.
Why is Poached chicken a healthy dish?
The healthiest component of the dish is the stock. The more you’ll add interesting herbs and spices, the better.
Here is what is very good and valuable to add to your home made chicken stock:
Fresh ginger, fresh garlic, fresh onion, cloves, whole pepper corns, grey salt, fresh parsley, thyme, laurel, the green part of a leek, young carrots, turnips greens, turnips, celery, fennel and parsnip.
This is not a Provencal dish so avoid very strong flavor such as herbes de provence, rosemary, sage.
The best way to make a powerful and therapeutic chicken stock is to cover all your ingredients with cold water and let is simmer at least 3 hours. Personally, I use an electric slow cooker that I don’t need to watch for…and let it work for me all night.
You don’t need to use a stuffed chicken each time you want to make your own chicken stock, even if this is a very good way to make a gourmet dish in the same time…
Making your own chicken stock is so important (you should always have some in your fridge) that you should use any possible occasion to make one.
Here are some ideas
- Always buy a whole organic chicken. From there, you may either use it whole, stuffed or not, to make your stock and then eat it.
- You may also cut the legs and breasts out so your have them ready for another dish, and use the carcass for your stock.
- If you are alone, simply freeze what you are not using for later.
My mother makes it hyper easy: she buys organic chicken legs and use them to make her stock. She’ll eat the legs after, either with the cream sauce (which gives you a good way to benefit from the stock), or cold, deboned, in a salad. She is 75 and do not take any drugs…
Why chicken stock?
Have you ever heard of bone broth?
This is very trendy…and for ounce, it is a good thing.
Bone broths are incredibly rich in proteins, minerals, collagen and minerals released from the bones and joints.
Drinking it regularly protects your immunity, detoxifies your body, supports your digestive system, protects and rebuild tissues such as your joints, you gut inner wall, your skin.
Its efficiency to help you when you have a cold is not a legend: it inhibits neutrophil migration, which means, it helps mitigate the side effects of any respiratory infections.
I prescribe bone broth to help my clients with autoimmune and chronic diseases. And it works.
Use it as much as possible: the classic way is the soup, with any vegetables (zucchini, carrot, leaks, pink lentils..), but also with noodles. You can make a twist using Chinese noodles, cilantro, lemongrass and coconut milk.
The floating island
This very simple dish may be easily upgraded and made more sophisticated.
But first, you may choose to change your ingredients.
To replace cow’s milk: any vegetable milk will work, especially homemade almond milk and light coconut.
To replace sugar: xylitol, maple syrup, honey.
To change the flavor: some will use fruit coulis in place of vanilla cream. According to your liking, it could be raspberries blended with a touch of maple syrup, or some mango with a touch of coconut milk
Some like it with chocolate or coffee to flavor the custard.
What I didn’t tell you about the custard
This is actually very technical. You have to make sure the mix of egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and milk doesn’t boil.
The best way is to constantly stir it with a flat wooden spoon, to scrap the bottom of the pan in a figure 8.
As soon as you notice that the white foam on top of the cream disappears, remove the pan from the heat and check your spoon: it is ready when you can draw a line with your finger on the spoon.
We call it “nape”. The cream is thick enough to coat the spoon. This is why your finger leaves a trace on the spoon.
To upgrade your dessert: in restaurants, the island is covered with a caramel cage…
It is easy to make if you happen to know how to make caramel!
I’ll show it to you in another class…
Basically, you need a little bowl. You slightly oil it on the outside. You make your caramel just with sugar and drizzle it outside the upside down bowl. Let it set, and carefully detach you cage from the bowl.
Or avoid the caramel and use a nice raspberry coulis…
Next time we’ll cook for valentine’s day…so stay tuned for the next show!