Poulet Bonne Femme

This simple French country recipe is suitable for either a whole chicken or chicken portions. For a special occasion, a dry white wine can be substituted for the chicken stock, or half wine, half stock could be used. Serve with boiled new potatoes and Petits Pois a la Francaise.


serves 4 - 6
Butter for frying
100 g (4 oz) unsmoked streaky bacon, rinds removed and diced
12 small pickling onions, peeled
1 3/4 - 2 kg (3 1/2 - 4 lb) chicken, with the giblets, or 4 chicken portions
Flour for coating
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
600 ml (1 pint) chicken stock (made from the giblets if using whole chicken)
1 bouquet garni
3 - 4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
175 g (6 oz) mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (optional)
Freshly chopped parsley to finish


1. Melt a knob of butter in a large flameproof casserole. Add the bacon and onions and fry until golden. Remove from the casserole with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Wash the chicken and dry thoroughly with a clean tea-towel or kitchen paper. Coat the chicken in flour seasoned with salt and pepper to taste, then put in the casserole and brown quickly on all sides.

3. Return the bacon and onions to the casserole, pour in the stock and stir to blend. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly, then lower the heat and put in the bouquet garni and carrots.

4. Cover the casserole and simmer gently on top of the stove for about 1 1/2 hours if using a whole chicken, or 30 to 40 minutes if using portions. If using mushrooms, add these 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.

5. Discard the bouquet garni and adjust the sauce for seasoning. The whole chicken should be removed from the casserole, cut into serving portions and arranged on a hot serving platter.

6. The sauce can either be poured over the chicken and the whole dish sprinkled with parsley, or the chicken can be sprinkled with parsley and the sauce served separately. Chicken portions can be served straight from the casserole.

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