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February 12, 2012 / beatricebunny

Cuisson de la manière française

ImageMy friend Michele and I have started a new cooking project.  Once a month, we are getting together, along with our spouses, and cooking a meal based on a theme.  Last night was our first get together, and we decided to choose recipes from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  Since I hosted, the main course was my responsibility.  She brought a side dish and dessert.  The event was a complete success.

I made Chicken in a Pot: Lemon and Garlic version (photo is the photo from the cookbook, not my own.)  This is an amazing dish and definitely outside of my comfort zone (which is one of the goals of this project).  It required me to use Moroccan preserved lemons, a new ingredient for me.  The cooking method is also interesting, you brown the ingredients and then place into a dutch oven.  Then, you make a flour and water pastry dough and wrap it around the edge of the dutch oven.  You place the lid over the dough, creating a solid seal for the dish.  There is no room for second chances here, you can only break that seal once.  Once broken, if the chicken is underdone or something has gone wrong, you are out of luck.

I talk a lot about the kitchen being a safe place for me to fail, but I don’t *like* failure, and I certainly didn’t want to waste a whole farmers market chicken or, frankly, end up making a crappy meal for Michele, who is the best cook I know.  As mentioned above, I also had to hunt down preserved lemons for the recipe, and they are not an easy find.  After a couple of attempts in town, I ended up ordering a jar from Amazon.  I think that this coming summer I can preserve my own lemons, but not quickly enough for this recipe.

Anyway, it was NOT a failure.  The chicken was perfectly roasted and so tender that when my husband carved it, the dark meat literally fell off the bone.  The vegetables were nicely blended, but retained their original flavor.  I especially loved the little pearl onions, which were sweet from long cooking.  The preserved lemons, sweetened by boiling in simple syrup, provided a nice brightness to the whole dish, and my apartment smelled amazing for hours.

Michele brought two additional dishes:  Tomatoes topped with herbs and a brown butter cake.  She topped the cake with peaches preserved from last summer.

Overall, it was a delicious leisurely meal.

Next month, Michele and her spouse will host, and my husband and I will bring the side dish and dessert.  The theme:  Irish food.  I can’t wait to see where we go this time.

As I mentioned yesterday, today I made a second batch of green soup, using up all the fresh greens in the house.  My husband has cinnamon freezer cookies chilling right now, and I have lamb ribs braising in the oven.  The apartment smells wonderful.  Once I post this, I will be perusing my books for next week’s recipe.

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4 Comments

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  1. Amber / Feb 13 2012 1:07 am

    so uh…month after next =Birmingham right?

  2. Becoming Madame / Feb 13 2012 4:10 pm

    This is a great idea. I made the chicken dish in the photo a few months ago and it was quite good. Of course I couldn’t get the lovely crust as perfect as hers in the cookbook. She offers a number of twists on traditional French cuisine which are worth a try. Hope you had fun with your cuisine à la française!

    • beatricebunny / Feb 13 2012 5:20 pm

      My crust was also not nearly as pretty. I didn’t think to photo the attempt.

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve really enjoyed everything that I’ve cooked so far from Around My French Table.

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