Last Week's recipe chosen for my online cooking group at www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com was called "M. Jacques' Armagnac Chicken". If you're like me you'd never heard of Armagnac- a French spirit, distilled (aka highly alcoholic), not unlike Cognac, whiskey and bourbon. Dorie explains all about it (she really, really likes it!) in her book Around My French Table. Armagnac is made from three types of white grapes, aged in oak, in the area of Three Musketeers fame, Gascony, in the Southwest of France. It is most often enjoyed, just as Cognac, as a digestive after dinner.
Well guess what, MY local supermarket does not carry this particular alcoholic beverage. Peasants! I did find a selection though, at that high-end purveyor of fine spirits, Total Wine. Yee-Haw. Had to open the bottle and try it when I got home. Oh Yum!
Dorie was offered this recipe by her friend, Jacques, a maitre d'hotel of a brasserie in Paris. (Right about now I'm wishing I'd taken French class in high school...) We should all be so lucky.
One lovely organic chicken is baked with new potatoes, carrots, lots of onions, thyme and rosemary from my garden, a bay leaf, fresh ground salt and white pepper.
Oh and the Armagnac. Which may or may not have been sipped during the preparation of this recipe. Kids, do not try this at home. At least until after all the veg are cut up. Just sayin'.
Then the covered pot goes into a hot oven for an hour. I added 10 minutes because my bird was larger than the recipe called for, weighing in at almost 5 lb.
Remove the chicken, keep it warm. Add a little water and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly. I have to say, it smells AMAZING.
I don't know, but I wouldn't say my chicken turned out like Dorie's: beautifully browned. I'd say it was more like tan. However, mine was thoroughly cooked yet delightfully juicy and tender.
Une petite merveille indeed.