I’m reposting this recipe as part of the wonderful PBS event happening right now! From August 5-15, PBS is celebrating the life and cuisine of Julia Child, who would have turned 100 years old this month! I’ll be adding more recipes to my Julia collection during that time and you can find out more about what PBS has planned by clicking here!
Up until now, I’ve had this notion that for the purposes of this blog, I need to fix recipes which are 100 years old or older. But my favorite cookbook is only 51 years old. And I’m going to make an exception.
“Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Berthold, published in 1961, may not seem terribly historic, but you must remember that Julia and her friends were translating traditional French recipes-some of them likely 100 years old or older- for the modern world. So that counts, right?
I was one of those women who watched “Julie and Julia” and fell in love with the notion of French cooking. I was one of those women who went directly from the TV to Amazon.com to order a copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I was one of those women who waited expectantly for about a week, sighing with disappointment whenever the mailman passed by without delivering said cookbook. And I was one of those women who squealed with glee and took a photo of my treasure to post on Facebook as soon as it arrived.
I am not one of those women who wants to cook every recipe in the book.
That said, I have tried nearly a dozen recipes in the past year-and loved almost all of them. (Will I be mocked for saying that I thought the famous Beef Bourguignon is not everything it’s made out to be?)
I’ve spent much more time reading the cookbook than actually cooking from it. I love how it’s laid out-step-by-step with the corresponding ingredients. It’s written conversationally. I’m convinced that even a novice cook could tackle these recipes.
They are time-consuming though-everything is homemade. There’s no microwaving and no shortcuts. And there are certain essentials you must stock before cooking like Julia…cream, butter, onions, wine (all kinds) and a Dutch oven that can also be used on the stove top.
My mother gave me a Dutch oven this spring. It’s my favorite casserole dish and it allows me to do more of Julia’s recipes than before, including this one. I loved this dish because it’s all in one pot-and it’s a good one for company, because you throw everything in and then let it cook while you entertain.
• ½ pound bacon
• 5 tablespoons of butter
• 1 tablespoon oil
• Five boneless chicken breasts
• 15-25 pearl onions or one regular white onion, chopped in large chunks
• 1 to 1 ½ pounds new potatoes or four large regular white potatoes, cut into large chunks
• ¼ salt
Fry the bacon in the Dutch oven until very lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Set bacon aside, leaving the droppings in the dish.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter and the oil and heat. Brown the chicken in the bacon drippings, butter and oil, 2-3 minutes on each side, until just slightly brown. Set the chicken aside; pour out the fat and oil.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Drop onions in boiling, salted water and boil slowly for five minutes. Drain and set aside.
Peel and trim potatoes into uniform slices about an inch in diameter. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil, then drain immediately. You don’t want to overcook the potatoes.
Heat the rest of the butter in the casserole on the stove until it is foaming. Add the drained potatoes and roll them around in the butter over moderate heat for 2 minutes to evaporate their moisture-it will keep them from sticking to the casserole. Spread them in a circle around the edge of the casserole. Salt the chicken and place inside the casserole. Place the bacon and onions over the potatoes, and sprinkle in whatever spices you wish.
Cover the casserole and heat it on the stove until the contents are sizzling, then put it straight into the oven and roast until the chicken is no longer pink, about 30-45 minutes, basting once or twice with the butter and juices in the pan.
As Julia would say, “Bon Appetit!”