Bring me back

I’m longing. I have my husband near me and my baby in shouting distance, but I am aching for France, and I don’t know what it is exactly. The hours I spend cooking or the markets of stall after stall of food just pulled an hour ago from the earth or sea, a table spread with candlelight or wine so good it sings to you below sound level and may even slightly adjust your cellular structure. I miss the trees outside my kitchen window at the Chateau des Sablons. I miss the bread. And so I have started Poule-au-Pot with a few chicken breasts still on the bone, an inside stalk of celery, a bay leaf, parsley sprig, a cinnamon stick, 3 cloves stuck into an onion and fresh thyme. Holy cow I’m feeling better already. The smells from the kitchen are the whole kit and kaboodle in a pot. When the chicken is cooked through (it has to simmer as slowly as possible to stay tender,) I’m going to set it to the side and add bundles of leeks cut into three inch lengths and tied with string, the same lengths of carrot, peeled chopped potato and just a tiny knob of butter. On the side I’m going to get lardons going, just until they are beginning to crisp, along with baby onions. When they are done I’ll use the same pan to saute mushrooms and then crisp buttery squares of croutons for a deconstructed sort of stuffing that typically goes inside an entire trussed chicken when you poach it for the same dish. When everything is done, pull the chicken from the bones, and toss the vegetables with butter, season with salt and pepper. Pile the vegetables around the edges of a platter with shallow sides, and the chicken down the center. Season the broth to taste and then pour just enough over the platter to make everything juicy, but not soup. Garnish with the lardon, baby onion, mushroom and croutons. Pear Tarte Tatin wouldn’t hurt for dessert.

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