Friday, 12 June 2009

French Hens - The Crèvecoeur

The Crèvecoeur is quite rare and is one of the oldest French chicken breeds. Some maintain that it is the oldest but there is dispute over the subject. They are named after the town of Crèvecoeur in Normandy and were first kept in France as dual–purpose chickens, valued for both their white eggs and meat. Nowadays Crèvecoeurs are primarily bred for poultry exhibition and historically there were a blue and white variety as well as the more widely known black. The cocks can reach a weight of 8 pounds.

Most French poultry historians believed that the Crèvecoeur was developed from crossing Polish with the old time common fowl of Normandy, which was often 5 toed (most chickens have only 4). Such fowl were also common in Brittany. Many French writers claim the Corking as originally French, believing that it was introduced to Britain during or after the Norman invasion in 1066. The British prefer to believe that a reverse movement occurred. In fact, the Romans were probably the original source of such birds in both areas and it is likely these fowl crossed the channel many times.

Poulet en Casserole Normande

4 chicken pieces
1 ½ oz butter
12 shallots
2 rashers of streaky bacon
2 good flavoured apples, peeled, cored and chopped
handful of chestnuts, peeled
¼ pint cider
bouquet garni

Brown the chicken all over in hot butter. Remove it and put the shallots into the pan and sauté over a medium heat. After a few minutes add the bacon, increase the heat and when the contents of the pan are turning colour add the apples and chestnuts. Shake over a brisk heat for a minute or two. Arrange the chicken pieces in layers with the mixture from the pan in a casserole dish. Rinse the pan out with cider and pour into the casserole. Add the bouquet garni and cover the casserole dish tightly. Cook in a slow to moderate oven for 1 ½ – 2 hours.


Anonymous said...

i made this for my family and it was very well liked. we'll make it again, i'm sure. thanks, sue.

Sue said...

That's good to know! Thanks :-)