Poularde cooked in a grey sea salt shell

There is the second recipe using salt as a casing, that I would like to share. First of all, as I am sure that most people do not know what is a "poularde", so let's have a closer look at this type of poultry.
A "poularde" is a fatty chicken that is grown in a particular way to avoid that it reaches sexual maturity. It consists of a young hen which is raised free range for the first part of its life and fed with corn, cereals and milk. Then just before it reaches sexual maturity, it is placed in a cage and maintained in the dark to be fattened for few weeks. In this way, the young hen do not reach sexual maturity, resulting in a very meaty bird (around 1.8Kg), covered of an important layer of fat, with a very tender, moist and milky flesh, but slightly on the bland side. The most famous region of production of poulardes are Le Mans and the Bresse regions of France.
Now the recipe:
This is a recipe for a bird of 1.8Kg that would be sufficient for 6 people:
  • 1 Poularde of about 1.8kg.
  • 160g of egg whites.
  • few nettles of rosemary.
  • 1 small sprig of thyme.
  • 6 peppercorns.
  • 1 clove of garlic.
  • 6 slices of black truffle.

First of all, check the bird's cavity for any remains of guts, blood clots and lungs. Then place the peppercorn, the crushed clove of garlic, the thyme and rosemary it this cavity. Then, carefully, place the slices of black truffle under the skin, all along the breasts area.

When, this is done, take a none stick pan and sear the bird on all sides until they reaches a nice golden colour. Make sure not to break the skin. Then, set aside. A little tip, here, use a couple of small wooden spoons that you place in the bird cavity to help you move the bird around.

In a large bowl, mix well the grey sea salt and the egg whites.

Finally, pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (gas mark 6, 356F). Take a roasting tray large enough to take the bird. Make a layer of salt-egg white mixture about 2cm thick onto the tray. Then, place the poularde on the top of it and fully cover the bird with the rest of the salt.

Cook in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. When it is cooked, let the poularde rest for about 10 minute in its shell, out of the oven.

Break the shell and take the poularde out. Remove all the salt and serve with some baked potatoes, braised cabbage and some jus scented with black truffle.

There is a link to the web-site of a nice bunch from France (I enjoy doing a bit of translation work for them), that offers a recipe for a chicken cooked in a salt shell.

" . . . réveillon, this word says it all; it is just as well that it comes only once a year, on 25 December, between two and three o'clock in the morning. This meal. . . is designed to restore the faithful, who are exhausted after a session of four hours in church, and to refresh throats hoarse from singing praises to the Lord. . . . A poularde or a capon with rice is the obligatory dish for this nocturnal meal, taking the place of soup, which is never served. Four hors d'oeuvres, consisting of piping hot sausages, fat well-stuffed andouilles, boudins blancs au crème, and properly defatted black puddings, are its attendants. This is followed by ox (beef) tongue, either pickled or (more likely) dressed as it would be at this time of the year, accompanied by a symmetrical arrangement of a dozen pigs' trotters (feet) stuffed with truffles and pistachio nuts, and a dish of fresh pork cutlets. At each corner of the table are two plates of petits fours, including tarts or tartlets, and two sweet desserts, which may be a cream and an English apple pie. Nine more desserts round off the meal, and the faithful - thus fortified - retire to their devotions at the early morning Mass, preceded by Prime and followed by Tierce."

Grimod de La Reyniere, Almanach des gourmands (1758-1838)

Gluten free, dairy free, nut free, suitable for pregnant women.


  1. Anonymous said,

    Interesting story you got here. I'd like to read something more concerning that matter. Thanks for posting that material.
    Joan Stepsen
    Hi tech gadgets

    on 18 January, 2010