Thursday, January 31, 2013

Roast Chicken Grand-Mère with Celeriac & Thyme






Roast Chicken Grand-Mère is a classic French fricassée. Warm and filling, this braised chicken casserole is prepared the old-fashioned way: everything is simmered together in one pot. Any dish termed 'Grand-Mère' has the same 4 ingredients: glazed pearl onions, bacon lardons, sautéed mushrooms and small new potatoes. French cuisine is filled with lots of comforting cottage-style gems, known as 'recettes de Grand-Mère', or 'grandmother's recipes'. A classic in French cuisine, Chicken Grand-Mère was a specialty in Chef Daniel Boulud's family too, and a favourite of his Grandmother Francine who cooked at the original Café Boulud outside Lyon. 




Chicken Grand-Mère was a specialty of Daniel Bolud's Grandmother Francine



"The best thing my grandmother made, appropriately enough, was the French classic Poulet Grand-Mère. You can make it with a whole chicken, but she did it as a fricassée, with the chicken cut into portions. You simply brown the meat in a sauté pan then add shallots, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms and chicken stock and bake it in the oven. We picked the mushrooms, raised the chickens, grew the onions. All of the elements were perfect together because of their freshness, and no time was it better to make this dish than at mushroom harvest time, when my grandmother would add rose des pres, pink field mushrooms, newly dug potatoes, and new garlic." 




Chicken breasts dressed in vegetable oil, seasoned with coarse sea salt, 
fresh ground black pepper and baked at 375°F for about 30-40 minutes



When I make Chicken Grand-Mère, I generally use chicken breasts rather than cutting up a whole chicken, simply because it's easier to control the cooking time of the meat. The breasts are coated in vegetable oil then seasoned with salt and pepper and baked along with some new potatoes for about 30 to 40 minutes. When they're all nice and golden brown, it's time to remove them from the oven and start on the vegetables.



The breasts are nicely browned and cooked through

Lovely and crispy golden brown new potatoes


Pearl onions are blanched, peeled and added to an oven-proof casserole along with 2 tablespoons of butter, 4 chopped shallots and 3 cloves of garlic, and sautéed on the stove top until they become soft and fragrant. Cremini mushrooms, a diced bulb of celeriac and 4 or 5 slices of chopped thick bacon are then added the the mixture and cooked until the bacon starts rendering its fat. The casserole then is covered over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes to stop the ingredients from sticking.



Sliced shallots, garlic and blanched pearl onions sautéed in butter

Cremini mushrooms - large ones are halved and the smaller are left whole

Peeled and diced celeriac

Bacon, celeriac and mushrooms are added to the casserole



The cooked chicken breasts and 2 cups of chicken broth are added to the cooked vegetables and the casserole is baked uncovered in the oven for about half an hour or so, until all of the lovely flavours have melded and the chicken is cooked through.



The cooked chicken breasts are added with 2 cups of chicken broth



This dish is wonderfully soothing and satisfying whether you’re making it simply with cremini mushrooms and new potatoes, or dressed up with exotic wild mushrooms or any of the small fingerling or organic potatoes that many local markets now offer. Simple, savoury and delicious, Roast Chicken Grand-Mère is the ultimate classic comfort food on a cold winter day, especially when served with a warm crusty baguette to sop up all of the flavourful juices — bon appetit!






Roast Chicken Grand-Mère
Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
12 pearl onions, skin on
4 shallots, peeled and sliced finely
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
6 sprigs thyme
16 small Yukon Gold potatoes
1 celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
6 oz bacon, cut into short thin strips
16 small cremini mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and halved
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 crusty Baguette, to serve with chicken


Centre a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Blanch the pearl onions in a small pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes, and when they're cool enough to handle, peel off the outer skin, trim off the root end, cover and set aside.

In a large bowl, coat the chicken breasts and small potatoes all over with canola oil, then place the chicken and potatoes in two separate foil-lined baking pans. Season them both generously with salt and pepper and roast together in the oven until the chicken breasts are well browned on top, about 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, remember to stir the potatoes every 10-15 minutes to ensure they become golden all over. When the chicken and potatoes are deeply golden, remove them from the oven and transfer to a platter and keep warm while you work on the vegetables.

Pour off 2 tablespoons of the cooking fat from the baking pan and place into an oven-proof casserole over medium heat, on the stove top. Add the butter and sliced shallots and cook, stirring frequently, about 5-6 minutes. Then add the cipollini onions, garlic and thyme and cook just until the vegetables start to take on a little color, about 5 minutes. Add the celery root and bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the bacon starts rendering its fat. Then cover the pan and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and return the chicken to the pan. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and slide the pan into the oven. Bake, uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Spoon everything onto a warm serving platter or serve from the casserole, and garnish with extra sprigs of thyme. To serve, bring the chicken to the table with plenty of crusty baguette to sop up the sauce.