French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David incorporates a wealth of historical information in its recipe chapters. One recipe for La Volaille Demi-Dueil (Poached Chicken with Truffles) caught my eye because my refrigerator contained an opened jar of preserved black truffles some of which were used in a ravioli filling. I sensed an opportunity to do something with this magnificently pungent fungi.
In Memphis I can’t run down to Kroger, Whole Foods or the Farmer’s Market to buy fresh white or black truffles. Nor can I find them in the wild. Highly prized white truffles may command prices of $6000/kilogram. Black truffles cost about $1000/kilogram. The highest quality truffles come from Italy and France, but many entrepreneurs currently cultivate truffles in other countries. The American Truffle Company works with producers in the United States to cultivate truffles who hope to sell this highly profitable food. I bought my preserved truffles at The Fresh Market.
Mère Fillioux of Lyon made her La Volaille Demi-Dueil dish famous around the beginning of the 20th C. Restaurants in Lyon continue to make variations of this dish. I followed her original recipe as described by Elizabeth David with a few variations. I bought an organic free range chicken and inserted thin slices of truffle under the skin of the bird. I then wrapped the bird in cheesecloth and tied string around the bird to prevent flailing about. I then placed the bird in my largest cast iron enamelware pot with 8 cups of beef stock (Elizabeth calls for “broth made from shin of veal”), the whitest parts of leeks and carrots both cut at an angle, a few bay leaves and some black peppercorns for added flavor. I brought the pot to a boil and then let it simmer for 1 hour.
While the chicken simmered, I prepared a pot of white rice. When the rice and the chicken was ready, I removed the bird from the pot to cool for about ten minutes. As the bird cooled, I made a supreme sauce of butter and heavy cream. When the sauce was ready, I unwrapped the chicken and cut off the legs and thighs to plate. With a slotted spoon, I plated carrots and leeks on the side of the chicken next to the rice. I finished the chicken and rice with a pinch of coarse salt, the supreme sauce and finely chopped Italian parsley.
We took our dinner on the front porch as the night was comfortable for early Spring. The crunchy salt, rich cream and tender truffle-infused chicken overwhelmed with luxurious flavor. We didn’t eat the truffles themselves as the meat and stock absorbed most of their remaining essence. The savory poached vegetables and creamy rice rounded out the meal perfectly. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Paul chose a delicious wine to pair with this dish from Radio-Coteau in Sonoma: a 2014 Wingtine Chardonnay. Perfect dinner on the porch.