This chicken is made in the half-mourning tradition, which is French for the white foods darkened by the black of a truffle. This dish is a simplified version of the classic. Michellin three-star chefs may offer fancier versions of this dish, but you won’t notice a lot of difference, as your guests rave over this pretty presentation of a whole chicken, covered with truffles, baked in a Le Creusot pot.
- 1 three and one-half pound chicken
- 3/4 oz. fresh black truffle, sliced thinly into rounds
- French sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 T. butter, softened
- A few peeled carrots, left whole
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
- 1 T. Madeira
- 1 T. cognac or armagnac
1. Working from the neck opening, use your fingers to pry the skin away from the breast, without tearing it. Slip the truffle slices and butter slices under the skin, covering the bird in a layer inside its own skin. Can leave to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub chicken with salt and pepper. Make a rack in the bottom of your Le Cresuet by putting a layer of whole, peeled carrots. Pour madeira and cognac around chicken in the casserole. Cover and bake for one hour. Serve with spetzel or buttered egg noodles.
While the bird cooks, prepare a Side Dish of Sautéed Mushrooms
2 onions sliced lengthwise in half and then 1/4″ wide threads
Take ane equal amount of sliced mushrooms (the good ones) to the onions and clean. In a separate pan, saute the onions in 1/4 c. butter and a little olive oil until browned. Deglaze pan with wine and add the mushrooms, which take less time to cook. Season with salt, pepper, and Cavender’s Greek Seasoning.
A Note about Chickens: Not all Chickens are Alike!
In France and most of Europe, poussin are very popular and have been regularly available since the domesticated wild red jungle fowl. Poussin is the first stage of a chicken’s life (think veal). Next is the poulet. Then, mature females or hens are poules, and the mature males are coqs. Typically, a European goes to market with a specific type of chicken in mind depending upon the recipe. For instance, cooking an old rooster in wine for a long time, coq au vin. Poule au pot, hen in the pot, requires a mature female to mature in the broth and vegetables. Here the coq’s pronounced flavor would be a bit overwhelming. In America, a capon is a reasonable substitute. A capon is gelded male fed milk until 6 months. The flesh is very white and, in France, the capon is traditionally served at Christmas. For everyday roasting or other dry cooking, get a poulet, or pullet, for a bird that will be juicy and tender. A poussin is the most tender, as they are only a month old and purely grain fed.
In the United States, fryers are birds of either sex up to 3 ½ pounds, then come roasters up to 5 pounds, and capons which range from 6-10 pounds. Poussin can be ordered in the US from D’Artagnans.
Better yet, raise your own and you have fresh eggs and the various stages of chickens. Our daughter’s favorite part of our playing polo is collecting eggs from the barn.