Poulet Sauté Chasseur – Hunter’s Chicken
Poulet Sauté Chasseur, or Hunter’s Chicken, crisp sauteed chicken served with a hearty sauce made with tomatoes, mushrooms a splash of white wine and brandy, flavoured with tarragon, this is a French classic, with a little Gypsy twist.
Among my favorite French dishes, I haven’t made Poulet Sauté Chasseur since fancy French cooking school. It dawned on me the other day that was so busy with my studies, I didn’t get a chance to share recipes with you from my days of classical training, so let’s start here. Poulet Sauté Chasseur is a dish served on cold autumn nights, over the camp stove with game birds and foraged mushrooms. If the hunting is light, the mushrooms make it meaty enough to be satisfying and tasty.
In the Gypsy version of Poulet Sauté Chasseur, we’ve added ‘lardons’ or salt pork (AKA: French bacon), this is not a traditional ingredient. Seems hunters in France don’t have salt pork handy. Perhaps there’s no room once they’ve packed the butter, fresh herbs, shallots, tomatoes, white wine, brandy, and veal stock (beef will do).
The North American version of hunting I’m familiar with, is synonymous with camping; it involves beer, baked beans, and bacon. Perhaps we could learn something from each other? I’m all for adding white wine, brandy and butter but on the topic of bacon – never leave home without it. Surely there’s room for a little salt pork, non?!
Tangy tarragon against the acidity of tomato and earthiness of mushrooms; this is a dish that fills the kitchen with aroma and warms the belly. And it will help you practice the art of de-boning, stock and sauce making and sautéing. Because we’ve used a salt cured meat, I didn’t add any salt, to this dish, except for the basic seasoning of the chicken, it was perfect without it and the lardons added a chewy layer of salty richness of the sauce.
Gypsy Tip: Wanna’ shave some time and steps off this recipe?
Replace the fresh tomatoes with a 19 ounce (540 ml) can of chopped tomatoes (drained) and skip step one (time saved: 15 minutes). Skip the de-boning and stock making and replace that liquid with a cup of chicken stock (time saved: 20 minutes) and pick things up on step four.
Then you have a beautiful meal in about an hour. You will sacrifice a bit of taste but you can make up for it by simmering 2 cups of chicken stock with the leftover bits of mushrooms, and tomatoes to reduce by half (like we do in step 3).
Served with a simple French bread, roasted potatoes or rice pilaf, you’ll see why Poulet Sauté Chasseur is a classic of French Cuisine, and a Gypsy favorite.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 large Roma tomatoes
- 4 chicken legs, thigh & back attached
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 4 whole peppercorns
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 1 sprig tarragon
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 ounce piece of salt pork, cut into lardon strips
- ¼ cup butter (divided)
- ½ pound raw mushrooms, sliced
- 2 shallots, chopped fine
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons (ish) brandy
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups veal stock (substitute: beef stock)
- 2 teaspoons chopped tarragon
- 1 teaspoons chopped parsley
- Optional: parsley & tarragon for garnish
- Blanch, peel, de-seed and chop tomatoes; comcassé (in small, seedless half inch cubes). Reserve until needed.
- In the traditional method, each piece of chicken contains only one bone. To achieve this, remove first the back and then the thigh bone; cutting them away cleanly to the top of the leg joint. (This will help accelerate your cooking time and make it easier to eat.) Fold over the skin and flesh of thigh to form a neat package (you can tie it if you want) and reserve. In a small pot, add one tablespoon of olive oil, over medium heat, until liquid and hot and then add remaining bones (thigh, back and any extra bits) and brown well before turning (about 6 minutes/side). This is a brown stock recipe, be sure to get lots of colour on those bones.
- While bones are browning, cut mushrooms, shallots, garlic and herbs, reserve remains (ie: ends of mushrooms, shallots, even the skins off the tomatoes for flavour). Then drain off excess fat from now browned and cooked, bones. Cover with water and return to stove over medium low heat, add thyme, whole peppercorns, parsley, one sprig of tarragon, and the bay leaf to stock as it begins to simmer. Add also the remains of the shallots, mushrooms, tomatoes etc. to stock to give it lots of flavour, simmering over low heat for about 30 minutes to reduce bay about half, while you cook the rest of the dish.
- In a large, deep sauté pan, sauté lardons over medium heat until golden brown then remove, drain, and de-grease the pan. Reserve cooked salt pork cubes at room temperature. Do not rinse your pan, that golden colour on the bottom of the pan is FLAVOUR. (If you want, you can use the pork fat instead of butter, but it’s mighty salty.)
- Season the prepared chicken pieces with salt and pepper, over medium heat add half the butter and remaining olive oil to the pan. Once the pan is to temperature, seer chicken until brown, about 15 minutes on each side, basting chicken with butter and juices from the bottom of the pan (20 minutes per side if you are cooking bone-in). Watch that the bottom of the pan does not burn, butter has a higher smoke point than oil. Remove the now golden-brown chicken to rest on a platter or dish, uncovered, in a warm spot.
- Drain any excess chicken fat from your pan and add mushrooms, shallots and garlic to the now golden, hot pan and season with pepper only. Add remaining butter, and saute until golden. Deglaze pan with brandy, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom to dissolve. Add white wine and reduce over medium heat by about two thirds. (In the photos, you will notice that I removed the mushrooms to deglaze the pan, you don’t have to.)
- Take reduced chicken stock in second pot, and strain liquid directly into pan, add veal stock and tomatoes continue to simmer over medium high heat, uncovered, about two minutes. Add salt pork lardons and stir to combine, as sauce simmers, the lardons to soften, add chopped tarragon and parsley to the sauce and stir, cooking over medium-low heat about 4 minutes. (NOTE: if sauce is not thickened to your liking, add optional cornstarch slurry to hot sauce to thicken) Check seasoning level, adjust as needed and immediately return the chicken to the pan, on top of the sauce to warm, and steam to be sure the chicken is hot, three to five minutes.