I will be giving easy recipes for a complete 19th century French dinner over the next three posts. The main entrée for this meal is Chicken a l’Oignon (chicken with onion); this receipt was created by Louis Eustache Ude, chef to King Louis XVI, at the time of the French Revolution.
Our chef of renown escaped France during the tumult and moved to England; here he wrote the cookbook The French Cook, published in 1813. His English was poor; thus, he lapsed into his native tongue when he couldn’t recall the proper English words; the title Chicken a l’Oignon demonstrates this trait of Ude.
His food preparations tended to be very simple and exceptionally elegant, of which the following is a perfect example. Here thinly sliced onion is stuffed under the skin over the breast meat of a roaster; you do this by gently making a cavity under the skin with your hand; hence, the onion juices seep into this succulent meat, as it is roasted to perfection. The results are tantalizing!
The ease with which you make this dish will astound you. Trust me it will become a family favorite.
Be sure to save the carcass for bone broth; instructions for this are given in Tortellini Sausage Soup; meanwhile freeze your leftover carcasses, until you have the needed three for the recipe.
Note: Bone broth is a power food, extremely high in protein; it is packed with nutrients that aid the digestive system and build up your adrenal glands; one cup of regular chicken stock has one gram of protein, while one cup of bone broth has nine grams of this essential food item! The manner of preparation makes all the difference in producing these two diverse broths. Buying prepared bone broth is highly expensive, while making your own is practically free!
Chicken a l’Oignon Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964). Yields about 5 servings. Total prep time: about 2 1/4 hr/ active prep time: 10 min/ cooking time: about 1 3/4 hr/ inactive prep time: 15 min.
4 ½-5 pound chicken (Foster Farms is all-natural and inexpensive.)
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
Salt and pepper (Real Salt is best; available in the health section of your local supermarket.)
Steamed brown rice (I prefer basmati brown rice.)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Wash the inside of the chicken. (Note: it isn’t necessary to wash meat, which is cut; only whole fowl, where blood is caught inside the carcass.)
- Cut off excess fat at neck; salt and pepper inside of chicken.
- Gently working your hand under the skin, make a cavity between the skin and the breast meat. Go down into the thigh meat with your fingers, being careful to not tear skin.
- Gently stuff onion slices in the cavity over the breast meat, pushing them down over the thigh meat area by the legs.
- Using a cheap, canola spray oil, thoroughly spray the inside and top (also the underside of upper rack and edges) of a broiler pan; this makes cleaning extremely easy!
- Place chicken on pan, salt and pepper generously.
- Put in oven, reducing heat to 350 degrees immediately. Bake for 20 minutes for each pound; temperature should be 165 degrees when done-legs should move fairly freely and juices should come forth, when skin is pierced.
- Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.
- Serve with steamed brown rice.