Julia Child's Poulet au Porto

Julia Child's Poulet au Porto

This is such a great recipe for a special dinner, or for entertaining.  The sauce is a bit sweet, and the port gives it such great depth, and the color is just gorgeous.  It is such a welcome change from boring everyday chicken!  The sauce is prepared while the chicken is roasted, so the total time to prepare is about an hour if using chicken pieces, longer if roasting a whole chicken, as the original recipe calls for. 

Poulet au Porto (From Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1)

3 pound ready-to-cook, roasting or frying chicken
1 pound fresh mushrooms
1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch blended with 1 Tbsp. of the cream
Salt and pepper
1/2 Tbsp. minced shallots or green onions
1/3 cup medium-dry port
Lemon juice to taste
1 Tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cognac
2 1/2 quart enameled orstainless steel saucepan
Fireproof casserole dish or chafing dish

Directions
Roast the chicken as described in the master recipe on page 240. Be sure not to overcook it.

Meanwhile, trim and wash the mushrooms. Quarter them if large, leave them whole if small.

Bring 1/4 cup water to boil in the saucepan with the butter, lemon, and salt. Toss in the mushrooms, cover, and boil slowly for 8 minutes. Pour out the cooking liquid and reserve.

Pour the cream and the cornstarch mixture into the mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes. Correct seasoning, and set aside.

When the chicken is done, remove it to a carving board and let it rest at room temperature while completing the sauce.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan. Stir in the shallots or onions and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the port and the mushroom juice, and boil down rapidly scraping up coagulated roasting juices, until liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the mushrooms and cream and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the liquid to thicken slightly. Correct seasoning and add lemon juice to taste.

Smear the inside of the casserole or chafing dish with butter. Rapidly carve the chicken into serving pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and arrange in the casserole or chafing dish.

Set over moderate heat or an alcohol flame until you hear the chicken begin to sizzle. Then pour the cognac over it. Avert your face, and ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole slowly until the flames have subsided. Then pour in the mushroom mixture, tilting the casserole and basting the chicken. Cover and steep for 5 minutes without allowing the sauce to boil. Serve.

Note: Chicken may remain in its casserole over barely simmering water or in the turned-off hot oven with its door ajar, for 10 to 15 minutes, but the sooner it is served, the better it will be.

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