The Day The Norse Sacked Paris, or, Poulet au Hydromel

With everyone in the family germified and generally feeling under the weather and unhappy, including myself, I almost decided against my plan for dinner. But a warm, chicken-y stew sounded like it just might hit the spot. And so I got to cooking once my workday was done.

Coq au vin. A tasty, warm, comforting french dish. No, that’s not quite right, the chicken I had on hand was at one time female. Poulet au vin? Close, but no; I have no red wine on hand. Or at least, none I want to use on dinner. Poulet au vin blanc!  White wine makes for a nice change every once in while, but, I almost forgot, I’m out of thyme. Eh, I have a better idea: poulet au hydromel,chicken braised in mead”. Oh, this will be interesting.

Here are the ingredients, for starters:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 12 oz. salt pork, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 small onions peeled and chunked
  • 6 shallots diced
  • 6 oz baby carrots
  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 8 coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • dry mead to cover
  • basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp. brandy
  • 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

Step 1

I started by adding the oil to the pan, and using kitchen shears I chopped the salt pork into the pan. The goal is rendering it. Doesn’t take long.

Salt Pork Rendering

Salt Pork Rendering

Step 2

I added all the vegetables to the oil and pork in the pan, and cooked until soft. Then I transferred all to a colander with a bowl to catch the oil, which gets added back to the pan. The vegetables stay to the side during Step 3, out of the pan.

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Step 3

I took the chicken breasts and cut them into medium-sized chunks using the kitchen sheers. I browned them to satisfaction. It is not necessary to cook all the way through! I probably could have cooked them to a nicer brown, but they were still a bit frozen, which generated a little more water than desired.

Browning The Chicken

Browning The Chicken

Step 4

I added the vegetables on top of the chicken, and added all the spices, pre-measured, to the pan. Then I mixed that all together, finishing by covering all with mead. Usually, as I’ve already mentioned, this is a wine dish – red or white depending on what you feel like. But today it is mead, honey wine. To cover, it took about 1 1/2 75 cl. (standard) bottles of homemade “traditional” dry mead. And usually I use equivalent amounts of thyme and marjoram, not coriander or nutmeg. But I thought both with go with the mead nicely (and I was right).

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Step 5

I brought this to a simmer, then reduced the heat and covered. It cooked for about an hour. The hour is a nice pause to sit down with a glass of the mead, as well as make the basmati rice (or noodles, or plain white rice, or whatever; this time it was basmati because it’s what I had readily available). It’s also plenty of time to tell the kids that it is time for dinner and to wash up (not that they will necessarily pay attention).

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Step 6

Finishing touches! The chopped parsley got tossed in the pan, a nice bit of bright green against the light caramel dish. And I also added the bit of brandy. Then it was on to the table.

Finishing Touches

Dinner is served

It went over well. I especially liked the coriander and what it did, in conjunction with the mead. My son cannot be expected to judge food, as it is all detestable to him – he ate little except the rice with pepper. But everyone else enjoyed it, though Jenna was unimpressed when she bit down on a peppercorn. I find the occasional peppercorn delightful, myself. Sigh. A good sigh, I mean, like the feeling you get after you’ve just had a good meal and you want to sit back and just rest. Exactly like that.

Bon Appetit