Recipe courtesy of Ariane Daguin

Poule au Pot with Gros Sel Sauce

Poule au pot, a favorite dish of Henri IV, is the pride and joy of many mothers in southwestern France. Their recipes are often fiercely guarded secrets passed down only to daughters. In restaurants the dish is served in three courses: the rich, elixir-like poaching broth first, with a spoonful of red wine in the last sip (called le chabrot); next the vegetables and stuffing; and finally the sliced bird with a sauce made with coarse sea salt (gros sel). At home, all of the dishes are placed on the table, but the broth is always eaten first. We suggest a capon rather than the old hen, or poule, that is traditionally braised. It is served with an emulsified sauce made with mustard, hard-cooked eggs, some of the broth, plus oil, and vinegar.
  • Total: 3 hr 50 min
  • Prep: 45 min
  • Cook: 3 hr 5 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

For the Stuffing:

1 capon liver or 2 chicken livers, chopped

6 ounces chopped pork sausage meat

3 ounces unsmoked, cured dry ham, such as Jambon de Bayonne or prosciutto, diced

3 ounces Grade B foie gras, diced, optional

1 shallot, chopped

1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons Armagnac

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 slices day old bread, about 2 ounces, torn into small pieces

1 cup milk

For the Capon:

1 (8 pound) capon, giblets, neck, 2 wing joints, and extra fat removed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 medium turnips, quartered

3 onions, each studded with 3 whole cloves

3 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 ribs celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 leeks, trimmed and washed, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 bay leaves

2 bunches fresh thyme

1 head garlic, separated into cloves, with skin left on

4 quarts chicken stock

1 head Savoy cabbage, large ribs removed, cored, quartered, and blanched

To Finish:

Gros Sel Sauce, recipe follows

8 ounces dried vermicelli pasta

Capers, for garnish

Pickled onions, for garnish

Cornichons, for garnish

Mustard, for garnish

Gros Sel Sauce:

4 hard-cooked eggs

2 tablespoons Pommery mustard

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

1/4 cup mixed chopped tarragon, flat-leaf parsley, chives, and chervil

2 cups grapeseed or canola oil

1 cup warm broth (reserved from above)

2 to 3 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Directions

  1. To Finish:
  2. Prepare the stuffing: blend liver, sausage, ham, and foie gras in a bowl. Add shallot, parsley, eggs, Armagnac, garlic, salt, and pepper. Soak the bread in milk until softened, then remove and gently squeeze to remove excess milk. Add soaked bread to the meat mixture, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Season inside of capon well with salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with stuffing and sew closed with butcher's twine, making sure twine is very tight. (Or, roll stuffing into a log in a double layer of cheesecloth and tie ends closed. Add to bouillon about 1/2 hour before bird is done cooking, and poach until firm.)
  4. Add turnips, onions, carrots, celery, and leeks to a large, deep pot. Place stuffed capon on vegetables, add bay leaves, thyme, and garlic. Add a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and pour in the stock. It should completely cover bird and vegetables. Add a little water, if needed. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until meat is very tender and almost falling off the bone, at least 2 1/2 hours. Cook the cabbage in the bouillon for the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Reserve 1 cup of the bouillon for the Gros Sel Sauce.
  5. While the capon cooks, prepare the Gros Sel Sauce.
  6. Carefully remove capon and vegetables from the pot with a large, slotted spoon. Place on a platter and lightly tent with foil. Strain broth, return to pot, and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Taste to adjust seasoning. Add pasta, and cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. While pasta cooks, cut capon into serving portions. Remove the stuffing from the cavity and cut into slices (or unwrap and slice). Arrange vegetables around capon and cover with foil. Keep in a warm oven.
  7. Ladle the broth with vermicelli into bowls and serve. Don't forget to pass a bottle of red wine for the chabrot. Following the broth, serve the stuffing, vegetables, and capon, pouring some of the hot broth over them before serving. Garnish with capers, pickled onions, cornichons, and mustard. Serve with Gros Sel Sauce.

Gros Sel Sauce:

  1. Combine eggs, mustard, vinegar, and herbs in a bowl. Slowly stir in oil, then add the broth. Season, to taste, with sea salt.

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