Poulet Roti Grand-Mère, or grandmother-style roast chicken, is a classic French fricassée. Any dish termed “Grand-mere” has the same 4 ingredients: glazed pearl or cipollini onions, bacon lardons, sauteed mushrooms and small potatoes.
This delicious savoury chicken dish was inspired by a fabulous recipe that I came across by Daniel Boulud, chef-owner of Daniel and Cafe Boulud in New York and author of The Café Boulud Cookbook. Poulet Roti Grand-Mère was a specialty of his Grandmother Francine.
Chef Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud grew up on his family's farm in Saint-Pierre-de-Chandieu, a village just outside Lyons, where his father sold produce at Les Halles. He was expected to help outdoors on the farm, but the only problem was, he was allergic to hay. So he turned to what he loved best — helping his grandmother in the kitchen. Grand-Mère Francine was in charge of feeding the entire Boulud family which added up to about 12 people around the table each mealtime. An accomplished cook, she also cooked at the original Café Boulud, a simple roadside restaurant on their land, where locals would drop in for an omelette or some home-made saucisson. It was in her kitchen that Daniel Boulud leaned how to cook.
Daniel on the family farm
The best thing Daniel's grandmother made, appropriately enough, was the French classic Poulet Grand-Mère. Although it can be made with a whole chicken, she did it as a fricassée, with the chicken cut up into portions. She browned the meat in a sauté pan then added shallots, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms and chicken stock and then baked it in the oven. She would prepare the dish with handpicked field mushrooms, freshly dug potatoes and new garlic. The Boulud family even raised their own chickens, so all of the elements for her Poulet Grand-Mère came together perfectly.
The Café Boulud Cookbook
My recipe for Chicken Grand-Mere is prepared much the same way as Francine's however I generally use chicken breasts rather than the whole chicken, and roast them in the oven until they're crispy and golden brown rather than searing them in hot oil. The outcome is the same though — a classic comfort food on a cold autumn or winter day.