We bought a chicken to eat for our tea,
Being France the chicken was full
Of heart and liver and, I think, kidney
And oddly she also had balls [shaky rhyming scheme but bear with me]
The penny dropped that this chick was a cock
So I boned it and browned it in oil
Then braised it in wine for two turns of the clock
‘Twas a handsome reward for my toil.
See – balls. There they are. By its foot:
We went to the market at Clermont L’Herault and, having discovered the restaurant food in the Languedoc to be largely inedible, decided to cook at home. Something simple – roast chicken, salad, new potatoes. Anything – anything – would be better than the bouillabaisse we couldn’t eat in Sete (more of that another time).
Anyway, as the poem and the photograph should show, this poulet was, in fact, a coq.
This is a fairly stripped down version of a coq au vin.
A cockerel. Or a chicken. Or a chicken with balls. Boned.
200g smoked lardons
A little butter
A handful of shallots, peeled and halved
Garlic, a few cloves, unpeeled but lightly crushed
Red wine – half a bottle
Water – a good slosh
Slices of stale baguette – two each
A good handful of parsley, finely chopped
A clove of garlic, crushed
Olive oil, salt, pepper
- Preheat the oven to 160C. Fry the lardons in a little oil until crisp and bung in a saucepan. Brown the chicken pieces in the oil and bacon fat, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go, and add to the pan. Toss in a little butter, lower the heat, and add the shallots and garlic, shaking now and then and gently frying until slightly softened and slightly browned. Into the pot with them.
- Add the wine and a glass of water to the frying pan to deglaze, then add this to the pan along with herbs if you have them – thyme, bay, parsley stalks, rosemary if you like. Worreva. Oh, and the mushrooms. Bring back to a boil, cover, and bung in oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
- When ready to serve heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the bread until toasted. Mix the parsley and crushed garlic with a little oil and spread over the toasts. Serve with the chicken and a generous spoonful of juices.