Monday, May 19, 2014

Poulet Canaille

French cookbook author and medical researcher Edouard Pomiane (1875-1964), as I've written, published his first cookbook shortly after World War I, became one of the first radio journalists to have a food show, and continued to publish books on cooking throughout his life.

He also appears to have been the first to publish a recipe for chicken with many cloves of garlic -- though his version calls for 30 cloves for one chicken, not the 40 cloves later made widely popular by James Beard and others in the 1970s. (I've been unable to determine the exact history of this recipe in popular American cooking, but it seems to have appeared in Beard's American Cookery in 1972.)

Continuing my project to try some of Pomiane's recipes, I decided to make his version, titled "Poulet Canaille" -- a recipe name that he also seems to have invented, though I can't be sure. I have two books that contain the recipe: in English, Cooking with Pomiane, and in French, À Table Avec Édouard De Pomiane, a collection edited by Ginette Mathiot.

Both versions use identical ingredients and methods, based on Pomiane's radio broadcast transcripts, but the presentation of material is quite different. Cooking with Pomiane includes his brief history of garlic since "the beginnings of Western civilization," as it was used by the builders of the pyramids and eaten by the ancient Hebrews. Mathiot's version gives the recipe in the first person, beginning by mentioning that one should buy a chicken already plucked, not bother with this step oneself.

Here is some documentation of my efforts:

Preparing ingredients for Pomiane's Poulet Canaille: his list:
1 cut-up chicken, 10 chopped shallots, 30 unpeeled garlic cloves,
olive oil and butter for browning the chicken, 1 glass of white wine.
(I used 2 chickens and increased the other ingredients.)
Browning the shallots after the chicken is browned:
I don't have a stove-top casserole big enough for 2 chickens,
as the original recipe suggests,
so I used oven dishes and baked the dish for 40 minutes instead.
Poulet Canaille, ready to eat
Pomiane says:
"Everyone receives a portion of chicken and 6 cloves of browned garlic. 
"Eat some chicken and then put a clove of garlic into your mouth. 
"Bite it and the inside will slip out. It is exquisite. Spit the skin discreetly onto your fork and slip it onto the rim of your plate. You can repeat this pleasure five times more, sipping as you do so a very dry white wine." (Cooking with Pomiane, p. 145-146)

The main course: Poulet Canaille, asparagus, roast potatoes, white wine --
it was really impressively delicious! After the main course I served
green salad (just lettuce & vinaigrette), which is the French/Pomiane style.
A note on the recipe's name: Simone Beck in Simca's Cuisine includes a menu called "Un dîner canaille pour joyeux amis/An earthy dinner for high-spirited friends." She explains: "The word canaille means something with a very highly developed, very pronounced flavor. For example, there is a seasoning for oysters, called canaille, that is only vinegar and raw shallots sprinkled over the oysters. The word has another connotation, and in this sense it is perhaps best translated by the British expression 'racy' -- a little fast, a little spicy, a little 'low.'" (Simca, p. 144-145)

Another Update, August, 2017: In Luc Sante's book The Other Paris a chapter is titled "La Canaille" which is an uncomplimentary term for the lower classes, derived from the Latin word for dog. A song popular in 1865 was titled "La canaille." (Sante, p. 76)

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

Was it as delicious as it looked? Because it looks absolutelyl amazing -- and I can practically taste all that wonderful garlic right here and now!