December 12, 2008

Chicken Bouillabaisse with Rouille

I am behind again in my posting, so I am going to combine my review and commentary.

I think I was a little over-ambitious for dinner this evening. In fact, I originally had just a plain ol' roast chicken on the menu, but I changed my mind right at the last possible second (meaning, the last possible second that I could change my mind and still have time to pull this dish off). Ever since I got my Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook, I have been wanting to make this recipe. I finally scored some Pernot at BevMo, which completed my stash of all the ingredients for this dish (hey, that rhymes...."Pear-NO"..."Bev-MO"...phonetically, at least). Finally, my plan was coming together. When I got home today, I was in the mood for a stew type of meal, and this popped into my head. Eureka! I am an evil genius!!!

So, let me tell you...I started cooking at 3pm. We finally ate dinner a little after 6pm. I ended up giving my son a PB & J and some applesauce because it was getting so late. This was labor-intensive to say the least. I know, I know...I should have expected it...the French are known for their fussy cuisine. Needless to say, I am whupped.

The million dollar question on your mind is....Was it worth it?????

The million dollar answer is....that depends.

Let me explain. It was awesome...there is no disputing that it was good. In fact, I am still thinking about the sauce, as I type this. If you enjoy fussy French food with booze in it, then this is the dish for you. I happen to be quite the 'booze-in-the-food' lover, so I was a happy girl. (Come to think of it...I am a 'booze-in-the-chocolate' lover and a 'booze-in-the-booze' lover too.) The flavor was complex and delicious...mostly with fennel,saffron and licorice flavor undertones.
Was it easy? In a word...NO. This was not an easy recipe. In fact, it was quite a pain. To be fair, you could save yourself time by not cutting up the whole chicken yourself (like I did...I should have bought pre-cut chicken or had the butcher do it as suggested in the recipe...cutting up a whole chicken never makes my skirt fly up). Other than that, it was pretty time consuming with a lot of little steps that you had to focus your attention on. With that said, it was tasty. I am a little disappointed, because you cannot tell how hard this was to make by the looks of the photo. The photo makes it look like chicken in sauce with a dollop of topping...completely deceiving. Trust me when I say, the preparation, cooking, and flavor profile of this dish was anything but simple. Darn photo is undermining my hard work!

I will probably make this again at some point, because it was so freakin' tasty. However, I will reserve this dish for a special occasion type of meal know, when I feel like hiding in the kitchen all day.

I should note that if you do decide to tackle this dish, make sure you make both parts of the recipe. The bouillabaisse would not have been as great if it did not have the rouille to top it. The rouille was easy to do (basically a homemade, flavored mayonnaise whipped up in the food processor) and can be made ahead of time, then stored in the fridge. I am glad I paired them both together or I would have felt cheated. The rouille gave a bright mellowness to the sharp fennel flavor of the bouillabaisse sauce. Together, it was so fantastically delicious. Also, make sure you have good bread to mop up the sauce bits. The additional components make this dish truly special.

Chicken Bouillabaisse with Rouille

1 (4 to 5-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
Good olive oil
1 large head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Pernod
1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
Rouille, for serving, recipe follows
Crusty French bread, for serving

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it generously with salt, pepper, and the rosemary. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces in batches until nicely browned all over, about 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, saffron, fennel seeds, tomato puree, chicken stock, white wine, Pernod, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper to the pot. Stir and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the garlic is very tender, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Carefully pour the sauce into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree until smooth. Return the sauce to the Dutch oven and add the sliced potatoes and browned chicken pieces with their juices. Stir carefully.
Cover the pot and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is done. Check the seasonings and serve hot in shallow bowls with big dollops of Rouille and slices of crusty bread.


4 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
*1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup good olive oil

Place the garlic and salt on a cutting board and mince together. Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, saffron, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth.
With the machine running, pour the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube to make a thick mayonnaise emulsion. Transfer the rouille to a serving bowl and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Yield: 1 cup

Hooray! I am all caught up on my posts!!!

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