Just as wines are linked to government-sanctioned regions, so is a special chicken (in 1957 poulet de bresse was awarded its own appellation d’origine controlee in Bourg-en-Bresse in Burgundy, France). Alain Ducasse (Le Relais Plaza, inside Hotel Plaza
Athénée, Paris) and Guy Savoy (Restaurant Guy Savoy, Paris) are among the chefs who swear by the white-feathered, blue-footed bird that roams freely and is fed a diet of corn and spring water. Only five percent of poulet de bresse are exported. Unfortunately, none are to the U.S. and Canada, as the exportation of these chickens to North America is banned.
At Hostellerie Chateau de la Barge (near Macon, France), hotel chefs instruct in how to prepare poulet de bresse. Proper preparation involves retaining most of the bird’s water and fat. Here’s their savory recipe:
Makes four servings:
1 poulet de bresse (ideally, between 13 and 18 pounds)
4 cups crème fraiche
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup butter
Ground salt and pepper
Clean chicken and cut into eight pieces. Heat butter in casserole dish and cook the chicken in the butter. When the pieces are stiffened, but a golden-brown color, pour the white wine over and cook until the wine is almost gone. Cook chicken with the crème fraiche over low heat for about 35 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces. Reduce the cooking until there are only two cups of liquid. Glaze the chicken with the sauce and serve.