First Anniversary – Alain Ducasse Chicken with Citrus Fruit and Couscous

Spring Flowers
Spring Flowers
It has been such a beautiful day:  11 Celsius and Spring is in the air. We’ve had a difficult winter this year. CNN said it was a 60 year cycle that affected the polar jet stream and allowed lots of cold arctic air to cover the northern hemisphere affecting North America, Europe and Asia. We’re glad it’s on it’s way to the history books!

Wedding Anniversary
Wedding Anniversary
Today is Spencer‘s and Amanda’s fist wedding anniversary! Congratulations to you both! Wish you many more happy years together! Tom and I were trying to remember what we did on our first anniversary. We don’t make a big deal about it except we usually go out to dinner. We hope the happy couple has a nice time together on this special day! The first year is the paper anniversary. Ours is silk or linen this year :)

Tom and I went for a walk in the woods, burning some calories from the Brownies I’ve made last night.  And of course enjoying this wonderful weather.

We’ll both miss our woods, when we are in Paris. They do have lovely parks in Paris. I love le Jardin de Luxembourg and le Jardin des Plantes. Paris has of course it’s Bois de Boulogne. But this is nothing compared with the one we have here about 400m (437 yards) away from our house. Our forest is called the Palatinate Forest or Pfalzerwald. It’s a designated Nature Park covering 1,771 km²!  So lots of hiking to do if you want to discover all of it :)

Jardin des Plantes - Paris
Jardin des Plantes - Paris

The weather enticed me to make a light dinner tonight.  While we were in Paris last time, I’ve bought a second book from Alain Ducasse.  He’s one of THE chefs.   He’s the owner of a three Michelin star restaurant in Paris: Au Plaza Athenee, 25 av. Montaigne in the 8th arrondissement.  His menus range from 260Euro to 360 Euro, and if you want to dine a la carte, it will cost you between 210Euro to 395 Euro.  Not just an everyday restaurant.   He also supervises Bistro Benoit.  Tom and I went there for dinner. We can highly recommend it. You can find the address in my restaurant section of my web page.

Back to my light dinner for tonight.  The second book I’ve bought from Alain Ducasse is called “Nature, simple, sain et bon”.  (Nature, simple, healthy and good.)  This book contains more simple to make recipes than my first one ” Grand Livre de Cuisine”.

I chose to make “Volaille jaune des Landes et semoule de ble dur aux agrumes” from his Nature book.  Chicken from the Landes is nourrished with corn, therefor its meat has a yellowish color.  These chicken are almost as good as the ones from Bresse.

Before you prepare this recipe a la Alain Ducasse, please first read my findings at the bottom of this post.

Preparation time: 2 hours

Cooking time: 50 min.

For 6 people:

– 1 nice chicken (preferable from the Landes.  In know this will be hard to find in the US or in Asia, but a corn fed chicken will do just as well)

– 4 oranges bio

– 1 lemon bio

– 1 lime bio

– 1 pomelo bio (if you cannot find it, use two grapefruits)

– 35 gr of sugar (or 8 teaspoons)

– 1 bunch of spring onions

– 1 fennel

–  a pinch of coriander grains

– 2 cardemom graines

– a bit of black pepper

– 300 gr of couscous

– a pinch of allspice

– 1/2 bunch of basil

– olive oil

1. Prepare the citrus peel

Remove the peel (without the white) from 4 oranges, 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 pomelo.  Cut these in thin match sticks (4mm wide, or 1/6 inch). Put these in a small casserole and pour cold water of them.  Bring this to a boil, drain and rinse with cold water. Then repeat this another time.  Squeeze the juice from 2 oranges and 1 lemon and the juice fom 1/2 of the pomelo. Poor this into the casserole and add 35gr of sugar (8 teaspoons). Add the peel and  simmer on low heat for 2 hours.

2. Prepare the citrus fruit and the vegetables

Remove the fruit segments from the lemon, the other 2 oranges and the other half of the pomelo.  Make sure to remove all the white stuff (they’re too bitter). Set aside.

The spring onions in 1 cm “stalks” (1/4 of an inch), and cut the onion bulbs in half.

Cut the fennel in small cubes.

3. Cooking the chicken

Preheat the oven to 180C (356F).  With a mortar grain the coriander an the cardemom fine.

Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and salt them.  Color them nice and golden in a casserole with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Take the chicken out of the pot and add the onions bulbs and fennel to the casserole.  Fry this for 3 minutes.

Add the fruit segments and black pepper, the coriander, the cardemom and the pieces of chicken.  Deglace with a half glass of water.  Cover the casserole with the lid and put it in the oven.

Remove the fillets after around 16 minutes and let the rest cook for another 20 minutes more.  Remove the chicken and the onions and mash the rest with a fork.  Add half of the  citrus peels and the green of the spring onions.  Rectify the seasoning and put everything back in to the pan.  Mix everything gently together.  Keep it warm

4. Prepare the couscous and finish the plate

Put 300gr of couscous in a casserole and add the rest of the peels, salt, 1 pinch of allspice and 5 tablespoons of olive oil.  Mix this well with your hands (clean!!!)

Boil 4.5dl (15 fluid ounces) of water and pour this over the couscous. Cover the casserole with a piece of parchment paper and the lid.  Let it swell during 10 minutes.

Remove the basil leaves from their stalks and cut it in fine strips.

Stir the couscous around with a fork and add the basil.

Serve the chicken in its casserole and the couscous separately.

Bon appetit ?

It was rather bitter. I do have to change something here.  I would reduce the amount of peel at least by 3/4th, and add some of the sugar water where the peels were simmering in, into the chicken and the couscous.  I also would use chicken broth instead of water to add to the couscous.  I would use butter instead of the olive oil what goes into the couscous to give it a more rounder taste.  And no lemon fruit segments to add to the chicken.  I like bitter, but this was way too much!  In Belgium there’s a saying “Bitter in de mond, maakt het hart gezond.”  What tastes bitter, keeps your heart healthy… It doesn’t rhyme in English, maybe this one sounds better:  What does taste bitter, keeps your heart from the litter… Ouch.  I’m not a native english speaker.. Excusez moi mon Anglais.

I’ve never made chicken like this before, so I followed the recipe to the letter.  Now, that I know where it’s heading to, I’ll be able to make the necessary adjustment in the future.

Everyone has to learn.

Slaap lekker en morgen gezond weer op! (Sleep well and tomorrow wake up sound and well!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *