Poulet is the French culinary term for the flesh of chicken. It is the white meat obtained from poultry specifically raised for the purpose. There are innumerable culinary uses of poulet. Parts of poulet such as the white meat carved from the breast portion of the bird or the chicken wing and the broiler chicken, are all incorporated into a number of classic French chicken dishes enjoyed immensely the world over.
Some dishes involving the use of Poulet are detailed below-
Poulet au Vin Blanc (Chicken in Vermouth)
This is a traditional French Chicken stew that is very flavorful and makes use of wine to cook juicy thigh pieces of chicken. The original recipe uses bone-in chicken pieces as the marrow usually imparts a great deal of flavor to the dish. However, use of skinless, boneless thighs would also work out just as well.
- chopped smoked bacon
- skinless, boneless chicken thighs with fat trimmed off
- chopped onion
- sliced baby carrots
- minced cloves of garlic
- sliced celery stalks
- dried thyme
- freshly ground black pepper
- bay leaf
- vermouth – a fortified wine
- chicken stock or broth
- white mushrooms
- In a Dutch oven (essentially a large, heavy bottomed cooking pot with lid), bacon is first cooked in little oil, over medium heat, until crisp. It is drained onto paper towels and set aside. About a tablespoon of the fat (including the juices from bacon) are left in the pan.
- Cleaned chicken pieces are placed in the pan once the fat is heated and cooked until browned on all sides. This is then transferred to a plate.
- After reducing to medium heat garlic, onions, carrots, celery, thyme, salt and pepper, are stir fried for few minutes. Then the bay leaf is added along with vermouth and chicken broth and brought to a boil.
- Flour placed in a small bowl is slowly drizzled with reserved chicken broth while stirring constantly with a fork until smooth. This mixture is added to the pan together with the remaining chicken broth, brought to a boil and stirred until thickened. Chicken and any juices are returned back into the pan, flame reduced and simmered, partially covered, until the chicken turns just tender.
- Meanwhile, mushrooms are cooked over medium heat in a separate pan with melted butter, until just tender. These are added along with bacon to the chicken, mixed well and simmered for few minutes before serving hot.
In France, Poulet au Vin Blanc is usually served accompanied by baked parsley potatoes, as well as buttered garlic rice.
A serving of ~ 250 g provides 360.1 calories, 175.5 from fat; 19.5 g total fat and 9.5 g saturated fat; cholesterol content of 114 mg; sodium 671.4 mg; total carbohydrate content of 8.8 g with 0.7 g sugar and 0.7 g dietary fibre and 30.7 g of protein.
Poulet a L’Orange [Orange Chicken]
A classic French roast chicken recipe with the tangy flavour of fresh oranges and seasoned with aromatic herbs makes for a nutritious, low-fat main dish. The distinctive flavour of fennel adds great depth to this dish.
- skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- peeled and thinly sliced onion
- washed, dried and sliced mushrooms
- thinly sliced bulb of Florence fennel with top, bottom and outer leaves removed
- lean bacon, sliced in small strips
- olive oil
- herbs de Provence
- salt and pepper
- Juice of 4 oranges
- orange zest for decorating
- Butter is melted in a deep skillet on medium heat, and the chicken breasts are roasted in it, turning occasionally, until both sides are browned and just cooked through.
- Then the chicken is removed from the pan, little olive oil added and sliced onions, fennel, bacon and mushrooms are sautéed on medium heat, with occasional stirring.
- Chicken is then returned to the skillet along with the sautéed vegetables, sprinkled with herbs de Provence, and seasoned with salt and pepper. The orange juice is poured on top and the liquid is boiled to just bubbling and reduced.
- After simmering for few more minutes and adjusting seasoning, the dish is ready to be served on top of rice, with a garnish of fresh orange zest.
A serving of ~ 240 g provides 260.1 calories, 76 from fat; 4.8 g total fat and 0.9 g saturated fat; cholesterol content of 68.4 mg; sodium 949.4 mg; total carbohydrate content of 16.5 g with 9.5 g sugar and 3.9 g dietary fibre and 31.1 g of protein.
Poulet à l’Estragon [Pot Roasted French Tarragon Chicken]
The Poulet a l’Estragon dish has the distinction of being described as “possibly the best chicken recipe in the world” by 'The Telegraph'.
This poulet dish makes use of the skilful technique of ‘casserole roasting’ that causes the release of the delicious juices from within the chicken as it cooks in the moist steam of a covered casserole. Merely, the juices from the chicken, stock of chicken and fresh herbs like French tarragon uplift this dish to a different level altogether.
· softened butter
· chopped fresh French tarragon
· fresh thyme and parsley
· chicken stock
· salt and freshly ground black pepper
The cavity of the cleaned whole chicken is smeared with freshly ground black pepper and salt along with some sprigs of tarragon, thyme and parsley stuffed inside. Some chopped tarragon is also blended with melted butter and set aside. This herb-butter is brushed generously over the entire chicken, which is then placed breast-up in the casserole or Dutch Oven (essentially a large, heavy bottomed cooking pot with lid) and allowed to roast for few minutes. Salt and pepper are sprinkled all over. The casserole is covered and cooked in the pre-heated oven for about 90 minutes, turning over once in between, till the juices run clear.
After the chicken is rested for a while, it is carved before serving. The pot with the chicken juices is heated and freshly chopped tarragon is added to it. Once flavors start rising, some flour is stirred in and whisked until smooth. Cream is added so that the sauce thickens a bit, seasoning may be adjusted.
The carved chicken pieces are arranged on a plate and the sauce is spooned over it before serving, garnished with a sprig of tarragon. Mashed potatoes and steamed or sautéed green beans and carrots are arranged on the side along with lemon wedges.
A serving size of ~ 250 g of Poulet à l’Estragon or Tarragon chicken as it is popularly known, provides-
309 calories, 20.9 g total fat, 98 mg of cholesterol, 172 mg sodium, 7.9 g of carbohydrates with 1.4 g dietary fiber and 17.5 g protein.
- Use of some nutritious greens like bok choy or spinach could potentially add more calcium, iron, fibre and Vitamins A, C, folate together with many anti-oxidant, anti-cancer phytonutrients.
- Use of certain types of nuts in small amounts like pinenuts, walnuts, almonds in poulet dishes could add to B-vitamins, Vitamin E, proteins, minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, phopshorus apart from delivering healthy unsaturated fats that would aid in lowering the LDL cholesterol.
- Addition of herbs - fresh and dry could increase the antioxidant content and offer a range of health benefits due to the essential oil composition.
- Skinless and fat-trimmed chicken would help lower the fat and cholesterol contents.