Outside of Epernay, France in the heart of champagne country sits the chateau Saran. It is owned by the champagne firm, Moët and Chandon. The chateau was originally a vendangeoir when it was acquired by the Moët family at the end of the eighteenth century. They used it as a hunting lodge. In the 1920’s additions were made and Saran became a summer residence. In the mid 1950’s, Saran was turned into country house to provide hospitality for agents, wine merchants, restaurateurs and journalists.
After thirty years of serving wonderful food, Robin McDouall, once a food editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Shelia Bush a publisher at Gollancz got together and collected many of the recipes for the dishes served at Saran into Recipes from a Chateau in Champagne. It is no big surprise that many of the recipes in this book feature champagne as an ingredient, like this one.
Poulet Etuvé au Champagne
(Chicken Cooked in Champagne)
1 chicken 3-3 1/2 lb
2 tbs oil
4 tbs (1/2 stick) butter
12 button onions (small white)
2 tbs marc de champagne or Calvados
2 tbs cognac
1/2 bottle non-vintage champagne
2 tbs flour
generous 1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
1 truffle (optional)
Cut the chicken into joints (8 pieces) and sauté them in a fireproof casserole in the oil and half the butter until they are golden. Add the onions and turn together for a minute. Set fire to the marc or Calvados and the cognac, add them and douse the flame with the champagne. Season. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Lift the joints out of the casserole, remove the skin and keep the joints warm.
Strain the cooking liquor and return to the casserole. Work the remaining butter and the flour into a beurre manié and stir into the cooking liquid over a gentle heat. When it has thickened add the cream, and the chopped truffle if you are using one. Add the chicken and simmer for the a few minutes. Arrange on a dish and serve with rice.
If perchance you don’t get invited to Saran for dinner, try this recipe. Or just buy yourself a nice bottle of Moët.