What’s cooking in France?
Denise’s ’Poulet Provençal au citron de Menton’
Denise lives in the South of France and has always liked cooking. She prefers to use biological, local, and seasonal products in her dishes. Her son, my husband, spent hours in her kitchen when he was a child, chatting to her, and observing how she cooked. Luckily for me he paid good attention, because my husband is also a good cook and a lot of his invented dishes are quite similar to Denise’s cuisine.
Let’s explore the South of France together by making Denise’s Provencal Chicken dish with Lemon from Menton.
Cooking time: 15 minutes to prepare the chicken, then the chicken goes in the oven for 30 minutes, during which you prepare the vegetables. After that, it all goes in the oven again for one hour, so total cooking time: 1h45 minutes.
- 1 whole big chicken (poulet fermier)
- Coriander powder (or in Denise’s case: grains that she crushes in a bowl)
- Chili powder
- Paprika powder
- Hand full of olives
- Some cherry tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 shallot
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 aubergine (eggplant)
- 1 zucchini
- 1 garlic
- 1 lemon (in Denise’s case from Menton, in the south of France, which is famous for its lemons, but in any case, a biological one, which she says has more taste and less chemical substances on it, and since you use the entire lemon, that would be better)
- Olive oil
- A sprig of thyme
- Some potatoes
How to prepare:
- Put the chicken in a large oven dish, in the middle
- Cut the lemon in half, spray some lemon juice over the chicken by squeezing one of the halves and rub the chicken all around with the lemon. Cut the rest of that half of the lemon into small pieces and put that inside of the chicken.
- Put salt on the chicken on both sides. Preferably sea salt. It will stick a bit to the chicken because of the lemon juice.
- You then put some paprika powder, and a bit of chili powder, on both sides of the chicken.
- Generously pour some olive oil over and inside the chicken.
- Without pre-heating, put the chicken cold inside the oven and set the oven on 200 degrees Celsius for a half an hour. You should turn the chicken around after 15 minutes to brown the other side. Once you have turned the chicken you can lower your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- In the meanwhile, cook the potatoes for 15 minutes.
- Keep the garlic parts in their outer layer, in French this is called: ‘l’ail en chemise’ (garlic in its shirt). You can put as many garlic parts as you want in this dish, depending on how much you like garlic.
- Cut the red bell pepper in cubes, cut the onion in 4 (so bigger parts), cut the shallot, the other half of the lemon, the zucchini, the eggplant and the potatoes in bigger parts once they are finished cooking. The cherry tomatoes will go in in one piece, just like the olives and the garlic parts.
- When the chicken has been in the oven for 30 minutes, you take it out and turn it around again and you then place the vegetables in your oven dish around the chicken. Mix up the vegetables a bit to get a good mixture.
- You then add some salt, pepper, coriander powder and sprig of thyme. Put the thyme a bit inside so that the taste will mix with the rest.
- For a chicken of 2 kg, Denise puts it in the stove now for 1 hour, she checks regularly to see if she needs to add a bit of water but the vegetables will already give their own juice, so we didn’t need to add any water.
Denise always cooks the recipe with seasonal vegetables and you can replace any with celery or fennel, which is often eaten in the south of France as well.