I was exploring down home, country-style French cooking and came across this traditional dish for boiled chicken. You might think that it is really just chicken soup, with the chicken cooked whole instead of cut up. I admit that it has the appearance of chicken soup, but the flavor suggests something a little more, not to mention the addition of an incredibly tasty stuffing.
Let’s get down to the details. I rinsed the chicken in cold water, including the cavities of the chicken–both the main cavity and the neck cavity. I realize experts say you needn’t wash chicken before cooking. It makes me feel better, so I’m going to keep on doing it! I thoroughly patted the chicken dry and salted the inside of the cavities. I saved the giblets, because they were needed later. The next step was to prepare the stuffing.
I browned some chicken livers.
I also separately browned some chopped shallots. I chopped up the livers, along with some ham.
I fork blended eggs, fresh and dry herbs, salt, and pepper. I also added some nutmeg to the mix.
I got milk-soaked bread ready by tearing it into bite-size pieces. I put it all in a bowl and hand mixed until all the elements were well-combined. It’s a stuffing with less bread than everything else and oh, so good!
I stuffed the cavities of the bird with the stuffing and did some careful sewing. I had some stuffing that wouldn’t fit into the bird, so I fried the leftover stuffing in a pan and ate it separately as an appetizer. It was too good for words!
I brought some water and the reserved giblets to a boil in a large pot. With my chicken, I only found two small pieces of neck in the giblet pack. I was not a happy camper!!! That wasn’t enough to make broth, so I cut off the wing tips at the first joint. I carefully put the chicken into the boiling water, breast-side up.
I brought the water to a boil again and skimmed off any scum that bubbled up. I added in some salt, peppercorns, and a bay leaf. Then I let the pot with the whole chicken simmer, covered, for about an hour. Meanwhile, I turned to preparing the soup vegetables, including some turnips.
I peeled the turnips and carrots, and got the leek, garlic, and parsley ready to go.
I almost forgot about the studded onion! The cloves in the onion go a long way towards making this dish very, very flavorful. I went a little overboard with the number of cloves I stuck into the onion. You don’t have to put in that many!
I added the vegetables and parsley to the pot and let it all simmer again (covered), but this time for a bit longer–1 1/2 hours.
Then came the tricky part of removing the chicken from the pot in one piece. I almost lost a leg along the way, and the wing got completely separated from the rest of the body. Oops!
I took the vegetables out of the pot and strained the broth. I then put the broth back in the pot and turned up the heat to medium high to reduce the broth to maximize the flavor. Meanwhile, I browned the turnips because they looked a little pale.
I went about removing the stuffing from the cavity of the chicken.
I then arranged the vegetables around the chicken on the serving platter. It was then that I realized I forgot to remove the stuffing from the other cavity!
That’s OK–it looked better with the stuffing still in the cavity (minus the string).
I reduced the broth. I actually also added a roux (browned flour and butter combination) to see what would happen, but found that this was an unnecessary step.
To serve, I arranged the stuffing, vegetables, and a piece of chicken in soup bowls and poured some broth over top. It was a complete dinner in a bowl!