The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.52
SPRING2017

Boulestin’s chicken with capers.

A simple recipe packed with flavor, this one uses an unorthodox sequence by starting a roux and then searing the chicken in it. Although you keep the roux white rather than allowing it to darken, the technique is more typical of Louisiana than England or France. It appears in a British cookbook, however, and Boulestin relished British food, so we will claim it. For four.


  • chicken_farm215.jpg 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour (preferably Wondra)
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • about 1½ cups chicken stock
  • 1 generous Tablespoon Riesling vinegar ( see the Notes)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 generous Tablespoons capers
  • 2 Tablespoons minced scallion greens
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350°

  1. Melt the butter in the olive oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium high heat.
  2. Quickly whisk the flour into the mix. As soon as the flour and fats integrate, add the chicken and cook until golden on all sides.
  3. Stir in enough stock nearly to cover the chicken, bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to low.
  4. Add the vinegar with a dusting of salt and pepper, then cover the skillet and bake until the chicken is done, usually in about half an hour.
  5. Meanwhile combine the yolks, cream and lemon juice, then stir the capers and scallion into the mix.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and return it to the stove on very low heat. Stir the egg and caper mixture into the pot to thicken the sauce: Do not let it boil .
  7. Serve the chicken hot with a scattering of parsley.

 

Notes:

- You can get Riesling vinegar from the Extra Virgin Oil Store in Mystic, Connecticut: 860.536.1916 and www.extravirginoilstore.com . If you cannot find Riesling vinegar--which is quite special--substitute Champagne or another white wine vinegar.

-If the sauce boils at Step 6, the egg will curdle and ruin it.

-If you prefer not to use the oven or are just feeling beat, you can simmer the dish on the stove instead. It is just easier to control the heat in the oven.

-Chicken thighs are hardly mandatory but nearly foolproof. They are roughly uniform so cook at the same pace and will not dry out as white meat can do. By all means, however, use white or a combination of white and dark meat. Or cut up a chicken in the old School style, as Boulestin himself did.

-He does not use scallions or parsley but adds chopped tarragon at the end of his recipe. You can too if you prefer.

-Some of Boulestin’s recipes resemble the suggestions beloved of Elizabeth David more than instructions: The original version is sort of a hybrid, at least as transcribed by the euphonious Elvia and Maurice Firuski in The Best of Boulestin . Boulestin specifies amounts for the roux (we took his straight) and vinegar but not for stock (which makes sense if you follow the bfia recipe), lemon or capers.

-The Editor likes to serve her chicken and capers with buttered egg noodles and green beans napped with butter and lemon.