Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lemon Thyme Chicken (a.k.a. Poulet au Thym Citronne)

This is one of the recipes from my French Farmhouse Cooking course that really rocked my world.... 

Lemon Thyme in the garden....So pretty...
This recipe hails from the Bresse area of Burgandy, France where the famous Poulet de Bresse (chickens) are raised. 
As per Wikipedia...
These birds are highly valued for their gamey depth of flavour, yet with fine, tender flesh and delicious, clean-flowing fat. Roughly 1.2 million are raised annually, but such is the demand inside France that few birds make it out of the country. As a premium product, they sell at a premium price: Poulet de Bresse command around 15 euro ($21US) per kilo at fine food markets.
The most typical examples, known as Bény, have a distinctive red crown, white feathers and blue feet, making up the colours of the French flag, making it an ideal national mascot.

This recipe is simple, but still packed with lots of flavour.  As you long as you don't burn the chicken when you brown it (which sometimes happens to me) it's truly a one-pot dish. 
The key with this recipe is to get a good brown on the chicken before stewing. 
If you don't have lemon thyme (I've never found it in my local grocery stores….I just happen to have it because I grow it every year in my garden) use regular thyme and add a bit more lemon juice (to taste) at the end.  You'll still get a lovely lemon and thyme chicken stew. 
I served this with a basic chive mashed potatoes and some glazed carrots. 
This is most definitely what I would call 'rustic comfort food'...

More Lemon Thyme was so pretty that I couldn't stop photographing it!
Lemon Thyme Chicken (a.k.a. Poulet au Thym Citronne)
(Adapted from 'French Farmhouse Cooking' course manual - George Brown College)
Serves 5 

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 4-ish pound Chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Sea salt & Ground pepper
2 large Onions, Julienned (I used the large white onions...).
8 Garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
1 large handful fresh Lemon Thyme sprigs (regular thyme will work here too)  (a large handful means about 6-7 big sprigs) (tie them in a bunch with some butcher twine - pictured below)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/3 cup fresh Lemon Thyme leaves (or regular Thyme leaves)
1/4 cup fresh Lemon juice (more if using regular Thyme)

(1) Season (both sides) of the raw chicken with sea salt and black pepper.
(2) Heat oil in large heavy skillet (I use my dutch oven for this).
(3) Add the seasoned chicken to the skillet and brown on both sides until golden brown.
-Tips for browning chicken:
-I usually keep the heat to gas mark 8 (the high side of medium-high) - the pan has to be really hot otherwise the chicken won't brown, and will absorb a lot of the oil
-Be very careful whenever you are dealing with hot will most likely spit up at you when you put the chicken in.  Long kitchen tongs for putting the chicken in the skillet and for turning are a really great idea here
-Don't attempt to turn the chicken over if it won't release from the skillet.  If the chicken piece is sticking to the bottom of the pan (to the point where you have to dig and shred the chicken piece in order to release it) it's not ready to be turned.  Wait a couple of minutes and try again.  I usually find myself leaving a piece of chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side to get a good brown
Yummy seasoned & browned chicken...
(4) Remove the chicken from the skillet once it's brown;  set aside in a plate for later.
(5) Add onions to the skillet over medium-high heat.
-If the bits leftover in the pan from browning the chicken are black/burned (instead of being a rich brown) either wash the pot or get a new one.  You don't want to ruin your stew by adding a burned/charcoal taste to it...if you are going to use a new/clean pot to sweat the onions, add a tablespoon of oil or butter (I'd recommend butter) to the pot and let it warm up/melt before adding the onions)
Julienned Onions...Ready to sweat....
(6) Sweat the onions until they become translucent.
(7) Turn the heat to medium, add the garlic.
(8) Continue cooking until onions are golden (but not caramelized).
(9) Add the chicken, lemon thyme sprig bunch, bay leaf & 1/2 cup chicken stock to the pot.
Lemon Thyme sprigs...tied in a bunch with butcher twine....
(10) Stir well, making sure to get any bits up from the bottom of the pan.
(11) Turn the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
                       -The stew should be gently simmering for the 30 minutes
(12) Remove cover.  Add lemon thyme leaves & lemon juice.  Cook for 5 minutes more.
(13) Remove from heat.  Remove the lemon thyme sprig bunch & the bay leaf.
(14) Taste for seasoning.
(15) Put the lid back on and let the stew sit covered for 10 minutes before serving.

Ready to serve!
Nutritional Information (for one serving - 1/5 of the final product):
Calories 472
Fat 10g
Carbs 10g
Fibre 1.4g
Protein 85g
WW Points 11
Happy Cooking!