And now, after my little Italian adventure, back to France and Franglais cuisine!
We have just spent a weekend with two lovely friends who have a house in a charming village on the edge of the ‘Champagne Trail’ set amidst lovely gentle countryside, that belies the fact that this was the scene of many violent and bloody battles during the first world war (and also suffered heavy bombardment by the ‘allies’ in the second).
We were a little earlier than expected to arrive for lunch so we took a short detour to the ‘Chateau-Thiery American monument’, commemorating the ‘second and third United States Infantry divisions’ who fought shoulder to shoulder with the French during the ‘Second Battle of the Marne’ during ‘The German Spring Offensive’
It is an impressive site, standing upon what was known as ‘Hill 204’ with commanding views over the river Marne. And the double colonnade bears the sculpture of an American Eagle on its east façade and of two figures, hands joined, representing France and the USA on its west façade with a dedication in English.
It is such a peaceful, reflective place that it is difficult to imagine what horrors men from all armies witnessed there.
Back in the garden of our friends’ we spoke with an elderly gentleman from the village, whose grandfather fought in those very battles and who showed us crater sites that still exist (although now covered by grass) from the allied bombs and cannon fire from both sides as they were caught centre stage in this awful arena of war, that sadly so many people are caught up in today in Syria.
For lunch we had a delicious dish of chicken cooked in fresh Rosemary from the garden and Nicole cut me a large sprig, so that I could try the recipe at home.
So here it is Nicole’s Poulet aux romarin…………
8 chicken drumsticks (Cuisse de poulet)
1 oz/20g butter
2 cloves of garlic (2 gousse d’ail)
1 tablespoon (2 cuillers a soupe) of olive oil
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon (2 cuillers a soupe) of corn flour (farine de mais)
1 tablespoon (2 cuillers a soupe) of rosemary
½ pint/250ml chicken stock
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper to taste
16 of each – small new potatoes, small baby carrots, green olives
Melt the butter in the oil and brown the chicken drumsticks
Add the garlic, lemon rind, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste
Blend together the cornflour, lemon juice and stock and add to the pan
Bring to the boil and transfer to a casserole dish (I use a ‘le creuset’ cast iron casserole, ass this seals in the juices and the flavours). Alternatively this dish works very well in a slow cooker.
Cook at 150 degrees for around four hours until the meat falls away from the bones (I remove the bones at this stage, as my stepdaughter does not like to see them on her plate)
30 minutes before serving steam the potatoes and carrots and add these to the dish along with the olives just before serving
This is wonderful with some warm crisp baguette to mop up the excess juices…..