Saturday, 21 July 2012

STAGE 19: BONNEVAL - CHARTRES

A hilly time-trial for the penultimate stage of the Tour. For Bradley Wiggins this stage should be a mere formality, with victory in Paris more than confirmed by his performance in the Pyrenees.


The stage finish is in Chartres, 60 kms south-west of Paris, a city which boasts a fine gothic cathedral and a rich food heritage of flour-milling, brewing, and distilling, game pies, macaroons, Mentchikoffs (a chocolate and praline confection covered in meringue), beer and pâté, Sablé de Beauce biscuits (wheat & butter cookies), cochelins (a sort of fruited scone), poule au pot, and edible flowers.



Today's recipe is for a classic poule au pot, a dish associated with Henri IV of France, whose ambition was that every family in his kingdom might be able to afford to eat this dish every Sunday. There is no standard recipe for poule au pot for it varies according to the seasons and what is available. It is literally "chicken in a pot". Delia Smith recreates a simple poule au pot in her recipe. My own version is even more minimalist: a whole chicken sat atop quartered lemons, onions, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, a sprig of thyme or tarragon, a few bay leaves, and a dash of white wine. Sometimes I add waxy Charlotte potatoes. I cook it in my chicken brick to ensure it stays moist, and by cooking it this way, it also makes its own gravy. You could also add bacon lardons, carrots, leeks, celery, and turnips. Serve it with a dollop of homemade aioli, nothing more. And a glass of chilled white wine (French, of course).



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