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Jun 2, 2009 11:09 AM

June 2009 COTM Elizabeth David Classics: Poultry & Game

Welcome to Elizabeth David Classics, which includes these three books by Elizabeth David:

A Book of Mediterranean Food [M] - "Poultry & Game "
Summer Cooking [S] - "Poultry & Game "
French Country Cooking [F] - "Poultry" & "Game "

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes here for Poultry & Game s contained in the chapters listed above. If such a dish appears in a chapter the title of which is not covered by one of the categories in the master thread, please post it here anyway. Since there are a number of different editions and some posters have the individual books, please post the abbreviations for the books as listed above, and the name of the recipe, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. That way posters can then look up the recipe in the index of whichever book they have.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Since I posted prematurely in another thread, here's a cut and paste plus an update--

    Having no particularly strong dinner plans other than having picked up a chicken on the way home, I looked for a chicken dish that could be made with what I had in the house and decided to go for "Le Poulet a la Creme" from _French Country Cooking_. The recipes are pleasantly vague. This one doesn't call for salt or pepper, though they're obviously needed. If something goes without saying, then it goes without saying.

    While I had the chicken and onions braising in a heavy copper saute pan, I moved to a comfortable chair in the living room and skimmed through some of the introductory chapters of this volume and was pleased to read under "Batterie de Cuisine"--

    "A heavy copper saute pan, about four inches deep and twelve inches across, with a long handle, is the most convenient pan in the world for braising a whole chicken or duck on top of the stove, for it can be left unattended without fear of disaster, and it can be looked at from time to time without the business of getting the pan in and out of the oven"

    --and indeed, this was precisely the case.

    At the end the recipe called for adding cream to the pan, simmering for about 10 minutes, removing the chicken, and then thickening the sauce with egg yolks and "a squeeze" of lemon juice. Since the sauce is strained, I think next time I'd just chop half a lemon, peel and all, into the sauce for a stronger lemon flavor.

    UPDATE--When I finished this, I froze a couple of small portions of the sauce, and it holds up well defrosted overnight and warmed up in a pan of water, which one might not expect of a sauce thickened with egg yolk, but as long as it's reheated gently it won't break.

    1 Reply
    1. re: David A. Goldfarb

      "Le Poulet a la creme" take two, a la the Clam....

      We just had this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. I took David's advice and seasoned my chicken (a 3+ pounder cut into 2 breast pieces and two legs, reserving the back and wings for stock) with salt. (Also paprika since black pepper in a no-no at Chez Clam.) Additionally, I sauteed the chicken, skin side down for a couple of mines so it would brown slightly. Hate that flabby skin thing...

      The thing I really switched up was substituting sliced leeks for the onions. And while E. David calls for some vague amount of butter, I feel I used a rather obscene amount, because it seemed like there needed to be more moisture for the "braise". (We'll find something lighter for tomorrow.) I also used half-and-half for the cream, since that was what I had around.

      I was a bit confused about whether to wisk the squeeze of lemon with the egg yolks or add it directly to the pan. I chose the former. I also added a small amount of the "bubbling" cream to the yolks before wisking them into the pan. (Lemon? Cream? Curdling?) It all worked out well. And I chose to be a further deviant and not put the sauce through a sieve.....

      Conclusion: it might be great with onions, but it's divine with leeks!

    2. Pollo in Padella con Peperoni [M]

      This is another wonderful dish with bright full flavors and aromas which we enjoyed very much.

      A chicken is cut into 6 pieces, put into a braising pan with olive oil, 2 or 3 sliced onions (I used 2 Spanish), 3 cloves of garlic (I chopped them), S & P, marjoram and thyme. The pan is covered and all is cooked slowly for an hour. While the chicken is braising, 4 or 5 large bell peppers (I used 1 green bell, 1 poblano and 2 red bells) are roasted then peeled, then cut into strips removing the seeds first. These are added to the pot along with 1/2 lb. rough chopped tomatoes (2 mediums for me) along with "a pinch" of basil.
      The dish is done "when the tomatoes are cooked." We put the peppers into the pan about 15 minutes before the hour, the tomatoes 5 minutes later and finally 4 round slices of peeled orange which Ms David says, "when added at the last moment are a pleasant addition." And, she's correct. All told I think the chicken and vegetables cooked for about 1 hour 10 minutes.

      I had planned to serve roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli with the chicken but there were so many veggies and such a good amount of pan juices we felt we didn't need the potatoes. OTOH, DH used a slice of nice crusty bread to mop up the juices...I didn't. One thing I would mention is that if you make this dish pay attention to the seasoning. Although the aroma in the kitchen was exciting, I felt the dish could have used more salt, and I rarely say that. For a long time we cooked salt-free and are only recently beginning to add salt to some dishes we cook. Perhaps some white wine could have been added as well. Also, I wonder if the pan juices should have been reduced after removing the cooked chicken. The remaining sauce was not in the least watery, there was simply quite a lot of it. Finally, I think this dish is a good all round dish to have in one's repertoire since the prep is fast and it cooks up quickly.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Good Morning to you too!

        I'm going to put that chicken on my list. I have two questions though....What size chicken did you use? And do you think that wherever David calls for pimentos, she means what we on this side of the pond refer to as bell peppers?

        1. re: clamscasino

          The chicken I used was a little over 3 lbs. And yes, pimentos in the UK are bells here. I looked it up.

      2. Poulet au Riz [F], p. 124
        Pollo in Padella con Peroni [M], p. 114

        You know how it seems E David provides more guidance than actual recipes? Well I took two of her recipes to make one of my own – chicken & rice casserole. I had no whole chicken or peppers. I don't think she'd mind, and hope 'hounds don't either that I post this as an E David recipe!

        Pollo recipe calls for browning chicken pieces in a braising pan w/ sliced onions, garlic and thyme. Poulet au riz calls for whole chicken, carrot, celery, tarragon, garlic and rice, covered with water. I had chicken thighs, so here’s what I did:

        Brown 4 bone-on chicken thighs in olive oil (having seasoned first w/ S&P). Add 2 sliced onions, 1 sliced celery stalk, and cook a bit. Then add 3 minced garlic cloves and chopped fresh tarragon and stir around for a minute. (I don’t like to risk burned garlic.)
        Add 1 c. short-grain brown rice, 3+ c. chicken stock, and thyme stalks (no pesky leaf-pulling needed!)
        Transfer to casserole dish w/ cover (or I suppose you could just cover pan and cook on stove a la E David) and bake at 350 for about an hour until rice is cooked. Voila!

        The flavors blend well – onion, celery, carrot, garlic and especially the herbs – tarragon and thyme – although David calls for marjoram instead of thyme, but hey, I had none and I think thyme is a gentler herb that goes great w/ chicken. The rice makes it a wholesome dish, and the chicken stock adds back chicken flavor to the whole dish rather than water leaching the flavor from the chicken and vegetables.

        1. Pheasant with Celery [F]

          I had been skipping over the game recipes in the books, but when I came across a pheasant at the farmers’ market on Saturday, I decided to pick one up. This is one of her recipes that, shall we say, lacks in specificity. One is to prepare the pheasant “as you would for roasting” and then braise it with butter, a little stock, some squares of bacon and a glass of port. So, I seasoned the pheasant with salt and pepper, then heated some butter with a little grapeseed oil and browned the pheasant in a dutch oven. I wish I had browned it a little more though. The pheasant was about 2.5 pounds, and I think my dutch oven was a bit large for it, but it was really my only option. Anyway, I then added the bacon (about three thick rashers cut into one inch-ish squares), and about 4 oz of ruby port, as well as some chicken stock I’d made the day before. Oh – and I put the neck in as well, which I had browned with the pheasant. I was unsure how long it would take, but after about 30 minutes of simmering, covered, on the stove, the juices ran clear.

          Meanwhile – the celery. You are supposed to use two heads of celery, “cut into thin rounds”. Now, my celery heads were huge, and I was cognizant that here in the U.S. our produce just tends to be a lot larger than that in the U.K., and I suspect that is particularly true in comparison to the produce she would have had access to when she wrote the books. Anyway, I decide to go ahead and use both of them, figuring that if I had too much, I could make celery soup later. Before starting the pheasant, I blanched the celery in some boiling salted water in the dutch oven. I then braised them in another pan in butter and stock, until they were quite soft. You then add 1 C cream to the celery, and add that to the pheasant sauce. Now, I had loads of liquid, both in the celery pan and the pheasant pot. So, I removed some of the sauce from the pheasant pot, and added about half of the contents of the celery pan, after removing the pheasant. She suggests thickening the sauce with an egg yolk if it is too thin – so I quickly whisked a yolk, tempered it, and whisked it in to the sauce. Then I did the same with a second yolk.

          Now, she ways to pour the sauce over the pheasant in the serving dish. At this point, I’m now wondering if I was supposed to cut up the pheasant before braising it! Anyway, with some difficulty, my husband butchered (um I mean cut up) the pheasant and I poured the sauce into a serving dish and put the pheasant pieces on top. Because the sauce was still quite soupy, I set out bowls for us to eat it from. I had decided that I wanted some rice for to sop up the sauce, and, since I didn’t have any other white rice on hand, I used Arborio rice, but cooked it using my usual recipe for rice. It was actually quite good – I added some salt, and then stirred in some chive butter before serving it.

          So - we both really enjoyed the dish, and I liked the slight gamey flavour of the pheasant, but my husband said that he'd just as soon have a (larger) chicken. I have loads of the celery mixture and the pheasant sauce left over, and plan to make a soup with it for dinner tonight.

          To start, we had an amazing beet dish that I’ll post about on the correct thread.

          6 Replies
          1. re: MMRuth

            Wow! You blow me away! Just after I posted about my chicken dalliance you chime in with your pheasant extravaganza! You are quite the intrepid cook (and so glad your husband let you return to COTM!). Your whole bird is beautiful!

            It sounds like you did it right since preparing a bird for roasting "in the usual way" I would think means rinsing and trussing (or tucking) and NOT chopping the bird up!

            1. re: NYchowcook

              You are right - preparing it for roasting doesn't suggest cutting it up. I cut off the tips of the wings, and when I got the pheasant, there was a nice bit of skin with a hole in it that held the two legs in place.

              And - my husband didn't have a choice, but has really enjoyed David's recipes since I started cooking them in December.

            2. re: MMRuth

              Thanks for the detailed report. I generally wouldn't think of using celery in this way, but it sounds interesting.

              She often seems to thicken sauces with egg yolks.

              1. re: MMRuth

                Wow - even the pheasants are bigger in the US! 2 and a half pounds is massive for a pheasant over here - your husband shouldn't complain. ;-)

                1. re: MMRuth

                  My thoughts are that pheasant is quite forgiving, so you could have braised it for longer to reduce the sauce. Roasted pheasant another matter though - very easy to overcook it and end up with meat that's tough as old boots.

                  Also is pheasant not a seasonal meat in the US? Here it's an Autumn/Winter thing, and the season is long gone as the pheasants are now breeding. Perhaps your pheasants are farmed, and that's why they're so much bigger....

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I made soup with the leftover sauce - just heated it up and pureed with the immersion blender. Swirled in a little chive butter before serving.

                  2. Poulet à l'Estragon [S]

                    An old standard that I haven't made for years. I have a dinner party coming up, so I'm trying to clear out the fridge and had a chicken breast and some leg/thigh portions in the freezer. E. David insists that this must be made with fresh tarragon, which I don't have in the immediate vicinity, so I used dried tarragon, and she also cooks the chicken whole, rather than in parts, but it seems to work perfectly well in parts.

                    Her version starts by putting a mixture of soft butter, salt, pepper, and tarragon inside the chicken, which is braised in only the butter in a heavy covered casserole. I simply melted the herbed butter in a Le Creuset dutch oven and coated the chicken with it before putting it in the oven. Then it is baked in the oven for an unspecified time at an unspecified temperature, turning it halfway through the cooking time and basting as the chicken releases its juices. About an hour and fifteen minutes at 350 deg. F seemed good.

                    Then I turned off the oven, moved the chicken to a serving dish, which I kept warm in the oven, and move the pot to the stovetop. To make the sauce, start by working together a "walnut" sized piece of butter with about a teaspoon of flour and mixing it with the cooking liquid over a low flame, and when it begins to thicken, add a "quarter of a pint" (let's see, how many gills would that be?) of cream and another two tablespoons of fresh tarragon or half as much dried, bring to a boil, and thicken further.

                    It was quite good. I think next time I'd like to saute some shallots in the pot first and add some white wine to the sauce. We were hungry, so no photo this time.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                      David, I read through that recipe several times. Do you think there was just too much butter? That was my first thought. I know, silly question.... but it made me think.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Heh. I remember when my wife wanted to start to learn to cook (we weren't married yet), I gave her a copy of Beard's _Theory and Practice of Good Cooking_ and suggested she try roasting a chicken, so she followed the recipe to the letter, and it was swimming in butter. I think it called for something like half a pound. That was over 20 years ago, and she still doesn't cook much, which is okay, since I like to cook anyway.

                        I think I used a little over half a stick of butter in this one, so I don't think that was too much.

                        1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                          Thanks. I guess a half stick isn't too bad. There were a couple of recipes I simply passed over thinking that's way too much. I'll go back and rethink the ones I'd like to do but nixed at first glance.