The chickens are on my list lately. Not only have the bold, bad things been making raids on the kitchen, strewing the contents of the piggie bucket all over the place and devouring the cat kibbles, but they have also been getting into the garden.
When I see them, plump and nonplussed with bulging crops, scratching up the ryegrass or sampling the sad remains of my collard trial for Forage farm, i just think of soup. Or chicken and dumplings. Or, the other day, I thought of chicken pot-au-feu, with garden vegetables that have survived the onslaught of badly behaved poultry.
Pot-au-feu is one of my favorite things to cook, because its so easy and so good. It means “fire pot” in French, and is classic working woman’s fare from ancient times. It takes only minutes to prepare, and vegetables like turnips or pumpkin that my children can be very picky about, when simmered in pot-au-feu, take on the delicious meaty flavor of the broth and cease to taste bland or turnipy.
A quick salad, some bread and butter on the side, and you have a shockingly upscale dinner that takes barely any time to prepare, is very economical, and tastes amazing. With a variety of meat, herbs, vegetables, and seasonings, the possibilities are endless and conveniently take the shape of what’s on hand, or ready in the garden. I love that this recipe was almost entirely home grown.
1 whole chicken
Butter or lard, a good slice or spoonful
A handful of garlic chives, or the green tops of onions
1 spring of thyme
2-3 sprigs of fresh dill
Salt and pepper
1 glass white wine
1 cup broth or water
- Quarter the chicken….I have some hopefully helpful suggestions here, if you are new to the process.
- Sprinkle the chicken pieces with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
- In a largish pot, melt the butter or lard, and brown the chicken pieces, one by one, or two by two. However they fit in the pot.
4. While the meat is browning, prepare the vegetables. I peel the turnips and chop them into chunks. Carrots fresh from the garden never need peeled because the skins are still tender. I just wash them well, trim them, and cut them into thickish rounds.
5. When all the chicken pieces have been browned, toss the carrot and turnip pieces in. Put the browned chicken pieces back on top. Nestle the garlic chives and sprigs of herbs in.
6. Pour over the glass of white wine, and then the broth or water. Cover the pot and cook for 25-35 minutes. You may need to add a little water during cooking, but you might not. Water cooks out of the vegetables adnd meat, but keep an eye on the liquid level.
7. When chicken pieces are cooked, and vegetables are soft, the pot-au-feu is ready!
Don’t forget to make broth with the chicken carcass! I added all the carrot tops to mine, for flavor, thrift, and nutrition.