Quick, before summer gets here I wanted to share an old school French recipe for cooking chicken that I adore. It is no secret to my avid followers that I love the classics, especially as I become one myself. This chicken dish is based on a recipe from the late great Paulette Blanc, mother to another famous chef you may have heard about, Georges Blanc.
Happy and successful cooking doesn’t rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life. – Georges Blanc
Madame Blanc was one of the famous Mères Lyonnaises“. The term “Mères Lyonnaises“, or mothers of Lyon (France), refers to a long lineage of female Chefs beginning in the mid-1700s who brought the gastronomic spotlight to Lyon, the undisputed gastronomical capital of France. Their influence and impact helped define and shape classic French cooking in modern times.
The Blancs started in the restaurant business in 1872 when Georges’ great grandfather Jean Louis Blanc began serving soup to a clientele of merchants who would stop in after the nearby markets closed. Jean Louis was succeeded in the family business by his son Adolphe and his wife Elisa in 1902.
Elisa, who later became known as “la Mere Blanc”, one of the infamous Meres Lyonnaises, learned by instinct and taste and had a natural inclination to cook. She prepared simple, fresh foods like veal chops with sorrel and Bresse chickens with morels in a style that reflected all Burgundy had to offer. Elisa was awarded her first Michelin star in 1929 and second by 1931.
The great food writer and gourmand Curnonsky considered her “the greatest cook in the world”. Her reputation helped the Blanc legacy to grow even greater. By 1934, the eldest son Jean took over with his wife Paulette, who quickly learned all the family dishes and secrets. They successfully ran the restaurant till 1965 when young Georges returned to train for three years under his mother’s tutelage.
Chicken in a Cream Sauce
Give this simple, forgiving chicken dish a try this weekend and hashtag us at #Pistouandpastis. We love to see what you are cooking up. If you want to score bonus points try these amazing potato pancakes that Mere Paulette served with her chicken (obviously served plain).
Chicken in a Cream Sauce
Paulette Blanc simple French classic, Chicken simmered in a cream sauce.
- 4 oz butter
- 4 pound chicken
- 1 onion quartered
- 10 button mushrooms trimmed, quartered
- 2 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 bouquet garni see notes
- 1 cup white wine preferably a Burgundy
- 4 cups cream (or creme fraiche)
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- sea salt
- black pepper
Melt butter in large sauté pan over high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper then brown in butter.
Add onions, mushrooms, garlic and bouquet garni and continue cooking for approximately 10 minutes.
Deglaze with white wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the little tasty bits.
Add cream or crème fraiche and simmer 30 minutes. Remove chicken and keep warm.
Strain sauce, adjust seasonings with lemon juice and a few grates of nutmeg, bring back to boil then pour over chicken and enjoy.
Bouquet Garnis are a collection of herbs, usually containing bay leaf and thyme, that are tied together and used to flavor stews, stocks, and other dishes.