Do you dream of spending the holidays relaxing by the fire, tucked away in a cottage in the French countryside? If so, make sure poultry is on your menu for Christmas. But not just any poultry. Here are 5 tips to give it some French flair.
Tip no. 1: be choosy
Although turkey is still traditional at Christmas, some French people prefer capon, fattened chicken, duck or heritage chicken breeds. Above all, they insist on birds that have been reared in the right conditions: free range and high quality feed are two essential prerequisites for tasty, tender meat.
Tip no.2: give it your undivided attention
Learn how to truss your poultry. That means neatly tying its legs and wings to enable it to cook evenly. You can pick it up easily from a video tutorial. You could also stuff it under the skin: after cutting the skin, gently lift it with your fingers and slide some slices of black truffle or butter flavored with truffle pieces underneath.
Tip no. 3: give it a luxury stuffing
Mix together five slices of multi-grain bread cut into cubes and fried in butter, 2 to 3 chopped sage leaves, 1 diced apple, 3.5 oz minced foie gras, a stick of celery, chopped, and two onions chopped and sautéed in butter. Moisten with a little stock and stuff your bird with this mixture.
Tip no. 4: pick a suitable companion
When it comes to accompaniments, it's about quality, not quantity. How about stir-frying some sweet chestnuts, or sautéing some Brussels sprouts: rinse, cut them in two, brown each side in a single layer with some oil, in a very hot pan, then towards the end, add a pat of butter to the pan to finish them off. They should retain their firmness and that splendid green color.
Tip no. 5: cook it with TLC
Your roast should be festive, delicious and easy. For a successful plate, baste the poultry frequently with its own juices. Place the bird upside down on its breast to start, and only turn it over in the second stage of cooking. That way, the fat from the thighs will "feed" the drier parts. Alternatively, try something completely different by cutting your bird into pieces and cooking it in the pot with vin jaune, morels (bought dry and re-hydrated) and cream.