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Potluck meal à la Frenchie ! The Poule au pot recipe

My  poor non-French people,

You are so cabbage. Vous êtes trop choux. So cuuuute, if I may try to translate.

It’s my fourth November here in LA, and I’m still amazed at how big Thanksgiving is for Americans, and how most of you suddenly get all stressed out and concerned about what you’re going to eat and cook.
It’s the one time of the year when you turn into French !

So I’ll give thanks to that this year, and to this wonderful tradition that brings together people around a table to eat, drink, and enjoy each other.

C’est bon ça!

I read the Wikipedia page  to make sure I understood this American and perfect tradition and I discovered that the French settlers who first came to America and Canada, celebrated Thanksgiving too, à leur façon, their way.

They would also celebrate the end of the harvest with a big feast… But then they would go on all through winter ! One day is never enough ! Ca c’est français !

I don’t know exactly what they were cooking and how (I guess there were no Kitchen aid and microwave in 17th Century America) but something tells me that when cooking poultry, that’s what they would have tried to make « avec les ingrédients du bord » (with the ingredients you have on board, what you have where you are). : Une poule au pot.

La poule au pot

poule au pot

1 hen (and a pot big enought to fit it !)
1 cup chicken Broth
6 carrots
4 turnips
2 leeks
1 onion
4 cloves
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon flour

La poule au pot is one the most traditional French dish.
Every French and perfect woman would tell you that it was very dear to our King Henri the IVth.

Henri de Navarre was one of the most popular king in France, and in many way, he still is.
It’s quite remarkable considering the state the country was in when he came to power : tore down by religious wars between catholics and protestants, France was a massive ocean of blood at the time, right after the awful Saint Barthelemy night.

I highly recommend you see the wonderful Queen Margot movie, directed by the great Patrice Chéreau from a novel by Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte-Cristo, and other bestsellers…)

People loved the fact that Henri the IVth was a bon vivant.
Someone who loves to live, and eat…
The legend has it that when he was born, his father rubbed a garlic clove and some drops of Jurançon (a white wine for the Pyrénées) on his lips.

And I guess he also gained most of his popularity by being quoted to say that « Every Frenchmen should be able to have a hen in his pot » (which was revolutionary at a time when Kings only saw their people as a way to get more tax and more power…).


The thing is, there once was a time when meat was as rare in a Frenchman’s diet as fruit and vegetables on an american kid’s school lunch… Being able to kill a pig, once a year, meant being well off. So when you had a hen, and could kill it, you had to do it right…

It took a long time for French people to get to eat « la poule au pot tous les dimanches » as King Henri had promised them to give them (I guess promisses not accomplished was another sign of his great mondernity !) , but it’s now a regular on French and perfect women’s Sunday menu.

The great thing with this recipe is that it’s quite cheap (hens are usually much more cheaper than chicken), and as always, very easy.

poule au pot recette

  • Pour cold water in the pot, and dive the hen in
  • Stick the cloves in the peeled onion and put it in the pot
  • Put slowly to boil, and regularly skim the foam
  • Add the broth, the peeled carrots and the turnips, and the white part of the leeks
  • Salt and pepper
  • Simmer for 4 hours. Yes. 4 hours. You can do 3, but the more it will slooooooowly cook, the better

So that’s the basic recipe.
A great one when you’re on a diet : white meat and boiled vegetables…
And it’s very tasty: the meat is very soft, it kind of disintegrate when you starts to cut it, I love it when it’s like that.. And so flavourful…

poule au pot

And then, you have the bon vivant recipe.
The one you would find on a French and perfect table at Sunday lunch, in the wintertime.
You add a sauce blanche.

poule au pot

Sauce blanche is one of the basic staples of French cuisine.
It’s a roux : a classic sauce, made out of flour and an element of fat (butter most of the time), slowly cooked with some liquid.

Béchamel is a roux made with milk.
Sauce blanche is made with broth.

  • Slowly melt the butter in the pan (I used the same pot that was used to cook the hen, to gather all the flavours of the dish)
  • Add the flour and mix
  • When it’s mikked into a paste, add 1 cup of chicken broth (here, the broth you just made by cooking the hen)
  • Stir slowly and mix for 10 minutes, until it turns into a hearty sauce

Pour the sauce on the meat and vegetables, and forget about falling leaves and shortening days… You’re French and perfect and having your poule au pot du dimanche…

Bon appétit les amis !



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3 Comments On This Topic
  1. Constance Barbeau posted
    August 11, 2014 at 12:24 am

    You are a good raconteur enjoyed reading it.Good recipe. Have made it numerous time.

    • Cecile Delarue posted
      October 14, 2014 at 12:09 am

      Merci Constance, this is the best compliment I can ever get !

  2. Constance Barbeau posted
    August 11, 2014 at 12:24 am

    You are a good raconteur enjoyed reading it.Good recipe. Have made it numerous time.

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