Je veux qu’il n’y ait si pauvre paysan en mon royaume qu’il n’ait tous les dimanches sa poule au pot.
(In my kingdom, I don't want there to be any peasant so poor that he can’t afford to have a hen in his pot every Sunday). King Henri IV
Poule au pot was reputedly Good King Henri’s favourite dish, but even in his native Pau you have to look far and wide to find it on a restaurant menu. Like us, you may just have to make it for yourself.
Some non-French recipes do it the disfavour of saying all you do is boil a whole chicken with some Savoy cabbage leaves, turnips, leeks, potatoes and carrots.
Mais non! A true poule au pot will be a chicken (preferably an old hen full of flavour) stuffed with sausage meat, shallots, chicken livers, breadcrumbs, thyme and Armagnac, tied up and then boiled in a chicken stock with the vegetables. Make enough stuffing to fill several parboiled cabbage leaves, and cook them separately in chicken stock.
When ready, unstuff the poule and slice up the stuffing, carve up the chicken, and serve it with the vegetables and stuffed cabbage rolls, in a dollop of broth (some people add a white sauce to the broth, but that’s optional).
Image by Dana Facaros