Sunday Dinner – Chicken Bouillabaisse

I was feeling sort of French on Sunday. I think it was due to the fact that we finally made it to Pied-A-Terre, a beautiful restaurant down the street, the night before. So lovely….a sophisticated room with a menu to match. Definitely left me wanting more.
So there I was, Sunday, leafing through my cookbooks when I came across a recipe for Chicken Bouillabaisse. Chicken? Really? I had always associated this dish with fish. However Ina Gartner (aka the Barefoot Contessa) had a different take on it. Now, totally confused, I decided to do some research. According to Wikipedia, bouillabaisse is derived from the Provencal Occitan (a dialect spoken in south of France/Spain) words “Bolhir” (to boil) and “Abaissar” (to simmer). So, it seems as though the term references the cooking method, as opposed to the ingredients. Mystery solved – although in hindsight, I don’t think I had ever bothered to translate bouillabaisse any further than “yummy fish soup”….tres french, non?
Chicken Bouillabaisse
Adapted from Ina Garnter
  • 3 lbs chicken (I used thighs but you can mix it up with whatever parts you like)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 Tsp saffron threads
  • 1/8 c. pernod (I didn’t have any so I used cognac – equally as lovely, or you can skip it entirely)
  • 1 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lb yellow fleshed potatoes (I like Yukon Gold, but that’s just me)
1) Pat your chicken dry and season with the salt, pepper, and rosemary. If you have a bit of extra rosemary that didn’t make it onto the chicken, hang on to it.
2) Pull out your big dutch-oven. If you don’t have one – no worries. You will be starting this dish on the stove top and then finishing in the oven, so you may have to use 2 pots.
3) Add the olive oil to the pot and turn the heat to medium high. When your oil is hot enough, brown the chicken pieces on each side. You will most likely have to do this in batches to give your meat enough space to properly brown. Set the browned chicken aside on a plate.
4) Turn down your heat to a medium setting and add the fennel and saffron and any extra rosemary you had from seasoning the chicken. Allow them to brown a bit and enjoy the wonderful smell. Add the garlic cloves and tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.
5) Pour in the white wine, the pernod (or alternative, or skip it all together) and the chicken stock and bring to a boil (bolhir)
6) Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for about 30 minutes (abaissar). You will know it is ready when the garlic is ridiculously tender.
7) Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
8) Carefully – and I do mean carefully – pour your sauce into a food processor or blender and blend until completely smooth.
9) Return the sauce to your dutch oven (or your oven proof casserole) as well as the chicken and any juices that have collected on the plate.
10) Cut your potatoes into quarters (or eighths if they are really big) and add those to the pot as well.
11) Give it all a careful stir, cover and pop it in your preheated oven.
12) Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until your potatoes are fork tender.
TIP: As with all stews, if you have the chance to make this the day before you plan to serve it, absolutely do.  The flavours will have considerably more time to marry (making for a tastier dish). I have also learned that an evening in the fridge causes the fat to rise to  the top, which makes it far easier to skim off (making for a healthier dish).
Enjoy!
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