The tradition of cooking ‘à la berrichonne‘ comes from the old French province of Berry in the Loire valley, smack in the centre of France. The province was absorbed into the modern départements of Cher and Indre on 4 March 1790.
Berrichonne cuisine is very defined as super-tasty, slow-cooked, rustic stuff. As such, poulet fricassée à la berrichonne translates very simply into ‘slow-cooked chicken with carrots.’
Larousse Gastronomique is not normally a source of confusion, but in the edition I have (2009 English version), poulet fricassée à la berrichonne is found twice with slightly different recipes each time (one under B for ‘Berry’ and the other F for ‘fricassée’). One contains onion, and the other does not. Importantly, both versions call for new, baby carrots, both slow cook the chicken, and both cover over with a glorious yolk-thickened vinegar cream sauce.
This really is French cooking at is simplest and best.
Poulet fricassée à la berrichonne
- 4 free-range chicken jointed into 8 pieces, or 8 chicken legs
- 50g butter
- 50 g new carrots or 8–12 imperator carrots, peeled and trimmed
- 250ml chicken stock, plus about 10ml more for the sauce
- Bouquet garni (bay, thyme, parsley stalks and celery tied)
- 2 egg yolks
- 250ml double cream
- Pinch of caster sugar
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Parsley, chopped to garnish
Heat the butter in a pan and brown the carrots. Remove the carrots to a plate, and brown the chicken in the same pan. Add the carrots back to the pan with the stock and the bouquet garni. Season, bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat, cover and cook on low for 45 mins (or place in an oven at 250˚C).
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing the egg yolks, cream, sugar and vinegar together.
Once the chicken is dome, remove the carrots and chicken to a serving dish. Pour the sauce mixture into the pan used for cooking the chicken, and cook without boiling until the egg yolks thicken it. Like a custard, this will happen at around 80˚C.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and carrots and garnish with the parsley.
If the season is not right for new carrots, imperator carrots do very well, as we used here. The key thing is to use carrots that are quite little.