Serves 4 to 6
After what seems a never-ending winter, how welcome are the beautiful smiling warm days of spring. However, often there is still a chill lurking in the air. With the arrival of spring, we tend to want meals that are a bit lighter, but that chill in the evening air means we still want a bit of comfort. This delectable poached chicken dish from Alsace is just the thing.
1 large whole chicken, rinsed well
1 or 2 bay leaves
6 to 8 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Pickling Spices, placed in a large tea-ball
1 or 2 slices of lemon
Place the bay leaves, garlic and onion inside the chicken and place the chicken in a large pot with a tight fitting lid. Add the mixed herbs and pickling spice and enough cold water to completely cover the chicken, about 6 cups. Place over a high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer, cover with the lid and cook until the chicken is quite tender but not yet falling off the bones (about an hour). Remove from the heat and allow the chicken to sit in the cooking liquid.
You will want about 2 cups of each of the following spring vegetables:
Very tiny new potatoes
Edible pod spring peas, (not the oriental type)
Remove the chicken from its cooking liquid and set on a plate. Set aside and keep warm. Strain and taste the cooking liquid. If it seems a bit on the wimpy side, enhance it by adding a bit of powdered chicken bouillon to taste. Bring to a boil and gently drop in the vegetables. Reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until the vegetables are just done. For gawds sake, don’t murder them. Leave them with a bit of life.
Remove the vegetables from the broth with a slotted spoon and arrange around the chicken.
The Mustard Sauce
1 cup broth the chicken and vegetables were cooked in
2 tablespoons Sweet and Hot Brown Mustard
1/2 cup thick cream
Place the broth and mustard in a pot and bring to a boil, whisking all the whole. Continue to boil for about 2 minutes to reduce slightly. Gradually add the cream while still whisking. Simmer for another minute or two.
Strain the broth and serve as the first coarse with crusty French bread. Place the Späetzle in a serving dish and add about ½ cup of the broth and a sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley. Serve along with the chicken and spring vegetables. Put the mustard sauce in a sauce boat and serve as an accompaniment. This makes an excellent spring time dish for a special occasion.