Saturday, 3 March 2012

Poule au Pot-less

I don't work for them, but I have to say that I really do love a Le Creuset casserole pot.

It doesn't matter what's cooked in it, the moment the lid is whipped-off at the table, I feel compelled to enjoy whatever is inside. I think it's because the whole French crockpot/Aga oven/enamelled metal thing etc, gives a feeling of timeless solidity in a scary, modern, brittle world. I also love Rolex watches and my mother-in-law for similar reasons.

Talking about brittle, do you know that having dropped a couple of my Le Creusets over the last few years, they break like an egg? You wouldn't think that a half-ton pan would break that easily, but it does - it's the weirdest thing to see one broken into two clean pieces (and this clumsy moron has managed the feat twice!), simply from a simple drying-up mistake. So, maybe the whole 'being in love with the look of something that isn't brittle, but in actual fact is' concept, is a metaphor for love, or at least co-dependency. Deep stuff (like a Le Creuset casserole pot, strangely enough).

Well, that's enough of the existential psychobabble for a moment. Anyway, the reason for this rambling monologue is to explain why this recipe is so dear to my heart. When we first moved into our flat in Marylebone - which is still the one that Mrs Ribeye and I currently occupy - we discovered that the oven didn't work. With Christmas looming, I thought, there is no way I am going to be able to make a roast Christmas dinner - I'll have to prepare the Yuletide bird on the hob instead. So Poule au Pot it was.

Now, in the best tradition of 'necessity being the mother of invention' - even though the oven has been restored to complete working order - the Poule au Pot has remained a family favourite. Tender chicken, luscious tasty vegetables, delicious stuffing and a load of broth to eat as a soupy starter, or to be reserved as stocks for later recipes - a Christmas gift of a dish, if there ever was one, but also one to enjoy all year round.

It makes so much sense to cram all of your meal into one pot. It cuts down on washing up. It dispenses with making sauces or gravies. It does away with using more than one ring of the hob (for any of you energy-saving freaks out there). You get to use your Le Creuset again (I may have laboured this point a bit here - if so, I'm sorry).

Also, this is a dinner which looks a million bucks, but would, in fact, be that miser Ebenezer Scrooge's delight. Only £2.75 per serving will be your outlay, with plenty of leftovers to blend-up, to make soup with. Why wait 'til Christmas?

Serves 4


Stuffing for the Chicken:

100g white breadcrumbs
100g smoked bacon lardons
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon of herbes de Provence, or dried mixed herbs
Pinches of salt and pepper

Mix ingredients together and set aside until needed.


Poule au Pot:

1 medium-sized free-range chicken
2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock
1 onion, peeled
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 4cm lengths
4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and halved
4 stalks of celery, cut into 4cm lengths
1 swede or turnip, cut into 4cm chunks
Pinches of salt and pepper
Handful of fresh parsley leaves, for sprinkling

Pack the cavity of the chicken with the stuffing mixture, and tie the legs together tightly with butcher's string to prevent spillage. Place the chicken in a large casserole pot, with the stock and the onion, and cook uncovered on a low to moderate heat until the chicken is almost done (1 hour approx). Add the vegetables and salt and pepper. Cook, with the lid on, until the vegetables are tender (15-20 minutes approx). Remove the chicken from the pot and untie the legs. With a large spoon, remove the stuffing in one piece, and slice thickly. Cut the chicken into eight pieces and return to the pot with a sprinkling of the parsley. Place the stuffing on a side dish and bring the chicken and vegetables, still in the covered casserole pot, to the table. Open the lid of the pot with a flourish and serve in shallow bowls with a fork and spoon to drink the delicious broth.


  1. I've just put a 47 year old Le Creuset pot into the oven (Obviously lasted longer than yours!)....brimming with chicken and veg...tho' a very different sauce from yours. Now, I feel compelled to comment: All these years of knowing you and I had no idea you could write coherently.

  2. I hate when things break, except for eggs at breakfast time. Hi from Johnnny in North Dakota.

    1. Hey Johnnny,

      thanks for the sardonic quip - always welcome at Potless Towers!

      Hope you're enjoying the blog.



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