Cookbook Profile

Chicken Poêlé

Portions: 4
Portion Size: 1/4 Chicken, 2 fl oz (60 mL) Sauce

Chicken Poêlé



A poêlé (pwah lay) is a classical preparation for white meats and poultry in which the item is cooked with a matignon (see below) in a covered container and basted with butter before and during cooking. Because the container is covered, the procedure is not a dry-heat method and, therefore, is not a genuine roasting procedure. Nevertheless, poêléing is usually translated as "butter-roasting" and is traditionally discussed along with other roasting procedures. (Escoffier also refers to a poêlé as a roast.) In this book, we follow this tradition and include the method here rather than with moist-heat procedures.

The recipe below illustrates the classical procedure for a poêlé, following Escoffier's method. Several alternatives to this procedure are indicated in the recipe notes.

The term poêlé is derived from the word for a type of cooking utensil, the poêle (pwahl). At one time, this term was used for the kind of covered casserole used to cook meats and poultry by the method described in the text. In French kitchens today, however, the poêlé is a type of sauté pan or frying pan. Consequently, in modern French, the verb poêlér usually means "to sauté or pan-fry. "

In this text, as in most English-speaking kitchens, we use the word poêlé to refer to the classical procedure described in the text. To avoid confusion, however, it is helpful to be aware of how the word is used in modern French. In fact, many familiar cooking terms have slightly different meanings in French. For example, casserole, a term used in the preceding paragraph, refers in French to what we would call a saucepan.


A classical matignon is a mixture of aromatic ingredients used to add flavor to a meat or other product. It is similar to a mirepoix, but with several important differences. First, a pork product, usually ham, is added to the vegetables. Second, in most cases the mixture is sweat in butter and deglazed with Madeira or another wine.

Although a matignon is usually cooked in butter before use, Escoffier specifically directs that a raw matignon be used for the poêlé procedure, so we follow those instructions in the basic recipe included here. The matignon cooks fully during the poêléing process and contributes its flavor to the poultry and juices. Nevertheless, when preparing this dish, some chefs prefer to sweat the matignon in butter before adding it to the pan.

Chicken Poêlé

U.S. Metric Ingredients
1 1 Whole chicken, about 4 lb (2 kg)
to taste to taste Salt
to taste to taste Pepper
3 large sprigs 3 large sprigs Parsley
1 sprig 1 sprig Fresh thyme
2 sprigs 2 sprigs Fresh tarragon
Raw matignon:    
4 oz 120 g Onion, brunoise
2 oz 60 g Carrot, brunoise
2 oz 60 g Celery, brunoise
1 oz 30 g Lean ham, cut paysanne
2 oz, or more as needed 60 g, or more as needed Butter, melted
1 fl oz 30 mL Madeira
1 pt 500 mL Brown stock
to taste to taste Salt
to taste to taste Pepper

Per serving: Calories, 750; Protein, 71 g; Fat, 46 g (56% cal.); Cholesterol, 250 mg; Carbohydrates, 8 g; Fiber, 1 g; Sodium, 540 mg.



1. Season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the herbs into the cavity.

2. Truss the chicken. Season the skin with additional salt and pepper.

3. Place the matignon in the bottom of a brazier or casserole just large enough to hold the chicken.

4. Place the chicken, breast up, on the matignon and baste generously with butter.

5. Cover the brazier or casserole and place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Let cook 1 hour. Two or three times during this period, uncover and brush the chicken with the butter and fat at the bottom of the pan.

6. After 1 hour of cooking, uncover the pan so the chicken will brown slightly. Continue to cook until the chicken is done, about 30 minutes more.

7. Remove the chicken to a platter or another pan, cover, and keep warm while preparing the sauce.

8. Add the Madeira to the matignon and juices in the pan and simmer until the liquid is reduced slightly.

9. Add the brown stock. Bring to a boil and reduce by half.

10. Strain the liquid through a china cap lined with several layers of cheesecloth (see Note below).

11. Degrease the liquid (see Note). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

12. Carve the chicken. Plate as desired. Serve the juices in a sauce boat on the side.


Note: The liquid should not be degreased earlier than this step. The fat absorbs some of the flavors of the matignon and chicken during cooking, and some of these flavors are transferred back to the stock when it is reduced, resulting in a more flavorful sauce.

Escoffier directs that the sauce be strained before being degreased, so this recipe follows the classical procedure. Many chefs prefer to leave the vegetables in the sauce. If they were cut carefully, this is an attractive and flavorful variation.

If desired, the sauce may be thickened lightly with a slurry of arrowroot or cornstarch.


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This page created May 2010