Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chicken Bouillabaisse (Garlicky Chicken Stew)

Abe got Jimi a Play Station 3 for Christmas this year and was very excited to start streaming movies through it.  We used to watch movies all the time when we were dating, but once little kids came into the picture, suddenly we... ok, I mean I.... was too tired to go out to the movie rental place to stand there for 30 minutes, trying to remember the movie I had wanted to see back 5 months ago.  Then, by the time we get it back home, I'm ready for bed.  Hey, you try getting up with 2 babies every night for the last 2+ years.  I used to be more exciting, I swear.

So, Netflix members, we now are.  I was excited to choose the first movie.... Julie and Julia.  A movie about... surprise.... a food blogger and how she cooked her way through Julia Child's iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook.  We both really liked the movie.  And it put us in a French cooking kind of mood, something I don't cook very often at all.

While I don't have a Julia Child cookbook, my mother did just get me an Ina Garten cookbook.  She's well-versed in French cooking, so I thought it close enough.

I know the title can seem overwhelming and way too fancy/hard/snooty/uppity/you-chose-the-adjective.  But it wasn't.  It did take a bit of time to slow cook, so make sure you set aside about 2 hours.  Perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon.

The ingredients have a few things that might not be in your pantry (do you have a pantry?  Man, I'd love a walk in pantry....).  I, personally, never heard of Pernod.  It's a licorice flavored liquor that's hard to come by- any licorice liquor will do; I used arak, an Arabic spirit, but ouzo will do too.  If you don't have any of these, or don't want to, white wine will do.

Saffron can be found in most grocery stores in the spice section.  It's a bit pricey, but it lasts a long time and adds a delicate flavor to the dish.

Now, onto the rouille.   This stuff is so damn good.  Don't skip this part of the recipe, thinking it's too hard.  It's not, but it does take a slow hand (you older folk will remember the song I'm referring too and the younger ones can google it).  And when I say slow, I mean, slooooooow.  After getting the all of the ingredients in the food processor and you're ready to add the olive oil, make sure you have a few minutes to spend on it.  Turn the processor on and add a few drops of the oil and watch it emulsify.  Add a very,very thin stream of oil into the processor until it's all in.  If you did it slow enough, you have a mayo-like sauce.  If you didn't, it still tastes freakishly good and can be used in the recipe.   I like the leftover sauce on sandwiches.  Yum.

So, make this recipe and then brag to your friends how you're a French chef.  Even if you are like me and can't correctly pronounce the dish.


Chicken Bouillabaisse
Serves 3-4

1 (4 to 5-pound) chicken, cut into 10 pieces (or any combo of chicken pieces on the bone)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Olive oil
1 large head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups good chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Pernod  (or any licorice-flavored spirit or white wine)
1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
Rouille, for serving, recipe follows

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it generously with salt, pepper, and the rosemary. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces in batches until nicely browned all over, about 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned chicken pieces to a plate and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, saffron, fennel seeds, tomato puree, chicken stock, white wine, Pernod, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper to the pot. Stir and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the garlic is very tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Carefully pour the sauce into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Puree until smooth. Return the sauce to the Dutch oven and add the sliced potatoes and browned chicken pieces with their juices. Stir carefully.

Cover the pot and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is done. Check the seasonings and serve hot in shallow bowls with big dollops of Rouille and slices of crusty bread.


4 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup good olive oil

Place the garlic and salt on a cutting board and mince together. Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, saffron, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth.

With the machine running, pour the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube to make a thick mayonnaise emulsion. Transfer the rouille to a serving bowl and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yield: 1 cup

                        Bouillabaisse Soup


  1. That looks really delicious.I love how you used chicken for this.I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this bouillabaisse widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about bouillabaisse recipes,Thanks!

  2. Looks great, Ina would be proud of you. I'll try it tomorrow.

  3. Looks great, Ina would be proud of you. I'll try it tomorrow.