Poached Chicken with Asparagus and Beurre Blanc
For the Poule au pot:
- 1kg-1.2kg free-range chicken – the smallest chicken you can find
- 1 head garlic
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 large onion
- 1 large leek
- 1 small fennel bulb
- 1 large carrot
- 1 bunch celery
- 2.5-3 litres of water
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 3 sprigs parsley
- 170g asparagus spears
For the Beurre blanc:
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 small sprigs mint
- 4 peppercorns
- Pinch of sea salt flakes
- 150ml of white wine
- 50ml verjuice
- 25ml white wine vinegar
- 120g butter, cubed and kept cold
Cut the garlic in half horizontally. Peel and halve the onion lengthways.
Cut the green end off the leek and trim the hairy root while leaving it intact. Halve the leek lengthways without cutting through the root and wash well.
Cut the stalks off the fennel bulb and cut thick slices, discarding the root end.
Peel the carrot, cut into two halves and then halve those pieces lengthways.
Halve the bunch of celery and remove the pale ‘heart’ of smaller stalks and leaves. Reserve the celery heart and refrigerate the celery stalks for cooking.
Wash and truss the chicken.
Make a bouquet garni by wrapping the bay leaves, thyme and parsley in a piece of muslin and tying it up with string. Leave the ends of the string long enough to tie the bouquet garni onto the handle of the pot – that way it can be submerged in the broth during cooking and pulled out after.
Place the chicken, breast-side up, in a Le Creuset Cool Mint 29cm Signature Oval Casserole.
Add the aromatic vegetables, salt and 2.5 to 3 litres of water – the water should just be covering the breast and the meaty part of the drumsticks.
Replace the lid and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. You don’t want it to boil or the skin will split. Once it’s reached a simmer, remove the lid and simmer over a low heat for 1 hour – it should barely be breaking a bubble.
Once the poaching is complete, replace the lid and leave the chicken to cool in the pot.
Once cool, carve the two breasts from the chicken and slice.
Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cook in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright green. Drain and immediately refresh in ice water.
Serve the sliced chicken with the blanched asparagus spears and beurre blanc.
Add the shallot, mint, peppercorns and salt to a small pot. Cover with the wine, verjuice and vinegar, bring to the boil and reduce the liquid until it’s almost dry – there should be about 1 tbsp left.
Place the saucepan over a very low heat and, whisking constantly, add the butter block by block, waiting for each block to be emulsified into the liquid before whisking in the next one. There should be steam coming off the sauce as you whisk in the butter – it’s important to keep it hot enough to melt the butter but not so hot that it separates. If necessary, take it off the heat and add another cold block of butter to keep the temperature down.
Once all the butter has been whisked in and you have a creamy sauce, strain and serve.