"Once you have heard the lark, known the swish of feet through hill-top grass and smelt the earth made ready for the seed, you are never again going to be fully happy about the cities and towns that man carries like a crippling weight upon his back."
Until then, I can conjure up Provence in my kitchen, close my eyes and let the aromas bring about the dream. In my kitchen I am able to float away on clouds of a fragrant bouquet garni, to a much simpler life, to that of a dream. And this, you too can achieve. Be it Provence or any other dream, you can live it, even if shortly by cooking its cuisine. My recipe below 'Ragoût de Pullet Provençal' is one that always evokes provence. Ragoût is french for stew or 'slowly cooked'. The recipe is a stew of chicken and provençal vegetables and herbs. I have an adoration for the french Baguette and would always choose to serve ragoût with a baguette. However, this stew can also be served with rice, a side of pasta or over mash.
|Ragoût de Poullet Provençal - |
a tomato based stew of carrots, fennel, garlic and onion, aromatised with fresh rosemary, thyme, sage and bay leaf
As ever, before jumping into the recipe, why not get to know
|Painting of Provence Olive Trees and hilltop village|
by French artist Jean-Marc
- Biscuits, crisp cookies.
- Calissons, a diamond-shaped sweet made with ground almond.
- Bugnes, sweet crispy pastry made out of dough that has been shaped into thin twisted ribbons, deep-fried and covered with icing sugar.
- Pompe, a sweet cognate to focaccia. (part of the 13 desserts of Provençal Christmas, which are desserts made only on Christmas)
- Souflee Cakes
- Croissants with Pine Nuts....
1 whole oven grilled chicken, pulled from the bone or 4 chicken breasts cooked and cut into thick chunks
1 cup reserved drippings from grilling the chicken or 1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 medium brown onions, finely chopped
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 packet new red potatoes, cut into chunks
4 large carrots, cut into chunks
2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed and sliced
500g tomatoes, peeled seeded and chopped
500g tomatoes, peeled and juiced
2 -3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fennel seeds
3 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 spring fresh rosemary
1 spring fresh sage
salt & Black pepper to taste
Chives for garnish (optional)
In a large pot or casserole dish, heat the olive oil together with the finely chopped onion. Cook stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent but not browned. Add the garlic, carrots, potatoes, and fennel along with the herbs and stir to coat.
Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to mix. Let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a separate dish or large bowl, mix together the tomato paste and tomato juice, season and add the sugar. Add the drippings from grilling the chicken (if reserved any, if not use 1 cup chicken broth instead) stir all to mix. Pour over the stew vegetables and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Once the mixture boils, reduce heat, and simmer covered for 2 hours, or until the vegetables are very tender. Before serving, add chicken pieces and let simmer in stew for 20 minutes further.
Garnish with chopped chives and serve hot. For best results, dunk a baguette into the ragoût and taste the goodness!