Pan-fried chicken

Pan-fried chicken in mushroom, chervil and tarragon sauce

This one’s called Poulet Sauté Champeaux and it’s a right bloody corker. If ever there was an example of the flavour boost to be had from cooking on the bone, this is it. Served with glazed baby onions and noisette potatoes. And you guessed it—there’s plenty of butter involved.

Chicken jointed into 8 pieces

Basic preparation or dressing of the bird first, just like I did for the roast chicken—singe any feathers, trim the neck and excess fat, remove the Parsons Nose and wish bone. Jointing the bird began by cutting away the wings at the first joint. Legs were removed from the body at the ball and socket joints, being careful to include the lovely oyster meat. My fave. The legs were then separated into drumsticks, which were French trimmed while the thighs were tied. Moving on and getting serious. The backbone was cut in half creating what’s called the crown, then the ribs were cut through and the rest of the backbone removed. The breast bone was also cut through to yield 2 fillets on the bone. These were cut in half at an angle parallel to the wing bone with the wing stumps French trimmed. Voilà. 8 pretty pieces of chicken, excluding the wings, which were not used in this dish.

I really enjoy butchery. So much in fact that I was tempted to apply for a butchery apprenticeship rather than come to Le Cordon Bleu. However, getting into butchery is nowhere near as accessible. What’s to say I won’t do it once I’ve completed my time at chef school.

If you don’t know, French trim is a decorative preparation that exposes a clean bone from the meat. Doing it well proved trickier than I expected. It was quite difficult to keep a firm grip on the raw chicken without squeezing the meat from the skin as I scraped with the boning knife. I think my boning knife lost its sharpness because the tendons didn’t want to let go. I should’ve stopped to put an edge back on the blade.

Pan-fried chicken ready to plate up

The chicken pieces got lightly coated in flour and jumped in the pot with hot clarified butter presentation-side down. All sides got colour without really frying the meat inside. Lid on and into the oven.

With the cooked chicken removed, the sauce was made in the chicken pan. Sweated shallots, sliced mushrooms, a bit of brandy flambé followed by white wine and stock to deglaze the pan and release all those tasty brown proteins stuck on the bottom. The liquid was then reduced to a coating consistency. And you thought that was it. Nope. Before serving the sauce was enriched with a couple of cubes of cold butter but what really makes it sing is the truck load of tarragon and chervil added at the end.

Accompanying this evening’s meal—and tomorrow’s breakfast—are baby onions glazed in nutty brown butter, and small potato balls that have been blanched, steam-dried and have bathed for an unhealthily long time in bubbling nutty brown butter.

Pan-fried chicken in mushroom, chervil and tarragon sauce

By the way, we got to eat another chicken dish in the demo and that was Suprême de Poulet Princesse. Such a regal name for chicken breast in breadcrumbs. Boy was it wow. The versatility of chicken never ceases to amaze me.

Chicken in breadcrumbs