Le Poulet en Civet au Vieux Bourgnogne

(Chicken Ragout of Old Burgundy)

cockscomb
You’re gonna do what with my what?
Here is a dish born on the stoves of French mothers. I think most great food, most great recipes, probably started on a stove top of an old world mom who had sparse ingredients but no notion of what to do with them. Some mom ended up with a pot, a chicken, a handful of vegetables, and some old wine. This is what she created and, decade after decade, tweaked, handed down, and perfected.

This stew is simple in it’s preparation but the flavor is not simple. The flavor takes its time to marry all the individual colors of the palette of this dish, yet not lose them. You can taste each ingredient alone, yet you can savor them as they unite into a stew greater than their myriad selves.

My friend the food snob told me “The French use lardons, not bacon.” I punched my friend in the nose to explain that lardon and bacon are the same fucking thing. Lardons are just very thick slices of pork belly with a lot of fat, sliced about the size of a half a standard American French fry. Using bacon, as Price does in his version of this dish, is perfectly acceptable and as long as you use bacon that is good and fat, it doesn’t affect the flavor at all. However, if you are an idiot who chars their bacon, you will fuck this dish up to the nth degree. DO NOT BURN YOUR BACON. If you do, throw it away, clean the pan, and start over, you misbegotten savage. If you have a hard on for lardons then by all means  pop on your beret, hop on your adorable vintage bicycle, and go to your local French grocery store. They will give you bacon. Then punch you in the face. And steal your bike. Merci.

At the end of this recipe, Price explains Civet is a French ragout thickened with the blood of the animal featured. In this case, you’d use fresh chicken blood. You can collect blood from your bird or ask your butcher for a small container of fresh blood. Covered, with a little vinegar mixed in, blood will keep for a day or two at the most–if you’re lucky. Better to use it immediately. Just swirl it in at the very last minute, after the stew has slowed past simmer to just being hot–just like you’re adding butter. Do not boil, it will gum up and turn into unappetizing clots.

This is another incident of Price making a clear distinction between Vincent Price the horror actor and Vincent Price the gourmand. How awesome would it have been to have a recipe in which Price extolls the virtue of fresh blood! Dammit!

And, yes, I believe this is essentially coq au vin. The only difference I can find is the inclusion of marc de Bourgogne or the use of blood to make it a civet.

The last paragraph also mentions how the classic French dish incorporates cooked kidneys and cockscomb. These are added a l’minute. I would think the best way to add the cockscomb is to braise it then use it as part of the garnish. I went over to Forager Chef to get what I believe is an authentic recipe for cooking these unusual chicken parts.

I look forward to your pictures.

Le Poulet en Civet au Vieux Bourgnogne

Ingredients

    Chicken
  • 3 strips bacon, diced (it's fucking lardons)
  • Medium onion. chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 pound chicken, quartered
  • 1/4 cup marc de Bourgogne or cognac
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups good red Bergundy
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sprigs parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • Garniture
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 8 small onions, peeled
  • 4 large mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 slices bread
  • garlic butter
  • Optional
  • fresh chicken blood
  • chicken kidneys
  • cock's comb

Instructions

    Chicken
  1. In a braising kettle put bacon, onion, and carrot. Cook over moderateheat until bacon is crisp and vegetables are lightly browned.
  2. Add the chicken and brown on all sides.
  3. Add Bourgogne or cognac and ignite. When the flame goes out, sprinkle in flour and stir until it's mixed well into the drippings in the pan.
  4. Add Burgundy, stock, salt, garlic, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 45 minutes.
  6. Garniture
  7. While the chicken is simmering, crisp up the bacon.
  8. Boil the little onions until tender.
  9. Sauté mushrooms in butter until lightly browned.
  10. Set aside and keep warm.
  11. Toast the bread; trim; then spread with the garlic butter. Cut into triangles to make croutons.
  12. Presentation
  13. Check the seasoning of the sauce and correct with salt and pepper, if needed.
  14. Arrange chicken pieces on a warm serving platter and strain the sauce over them.
  15. Garnish with the onions, bacon, mushrooms, and garlic croutons.
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Vocabulary Lessons

Click to hear Le Poulet en Civet au Vieux Bourgogne in French.

  • Poulet=Chicken
  • Civet=stew
  • Vieux=old
  • Bourgogne=Bergundy
Bull Garlington is an award-winning author and columnist from Chicago. His newest book is The Full English, a humorous travel memoir.