Le Cuisinier Gascon, Amsterdam (probably a false imprint for Paris), 1740 is famous for its important early treatment of foie gras, and for the outlandish names of many of its recipes. My copy of Gascon is the 1747 Nouvelle edition with the added letter to an English Pastry chef. This recipe isn’t outlandish though (if perhaps slightly random) – German Chicken in German Sauce:
18th century French cookery exists a vast distance from most of the cookery that I’ve done for cruditas. La Varenne’s mid 17th century cookbooks represent the dividing line between Medieval and Renaissance cookery, and by the time Le Cuisinier Gascon was written, French cookery had moved about halfway towards what we would recognize as fully modern French cuisine. However, what remains from the past is a pervasive feeling that chefs of the time were playing a game of Iron Chef where the secret ingredient is pork.
Translations are mine with a little help(?) from google:
“Vous avez des poulets gras de moyenne grosseur, vous les troussez en dedans et les piquez de lard et jambon ; ensuite vous les passez dans leur casserolle avec lard fondu, et leur donnez couleur ; ayant une belle couleur, vous les étouffez dans une casserolle bien foncée, et bien nourris de bon goût, et les faites suer une demie heure, et les mouillez de vin de Champagne, et les laissez cuire; étant cuits, vous les égoûtez, et les dresse dans leur plat, une sauce à l’Allemand dessus, et servez.”
“Take a normal sized chicken, truss it up and inside put bacon and ham, then put it in a casserolle with melted lard, and brown it; with when it has a beautiful color, you stuff it in the casserole and cook much longer, until nourished with good taste and make them sweat a half hour, baste with champagne, and cook, being cooked to taste, and prepare the dish in a sauce of Germany below, and serve. “
“Vous passez persil , ciboules, champignons, truffes, hachez une tranche de jambon, une gousee d’ail, une feuille de laurier, quelques tranches d’oignon ; quand cela est passé au beurre, vous le mouillez avec de bon bouillon et le laissez réduire ; vous passez le fond de vos poulets dans un tamis bien clair et le mettez dans la sauce; étant finie de bon goût, vous la liez avec des jaunes d’oeufs, et vous jettez dedans en servant pignons et pistaches blanchis, et servez sur vos Poulets ; vous ôtez les tranches d’oignon de la sauce, jus de citron, et gros poivre.”
Take parsley, scallions, mushrooms, truffles, chop a slice of ham, a clove of garlic, bay leaf, some sliced onion and when it is past butter(? – thickened, perhaps?), you wet with good broth and let reduce, run the leavings from the chicken through a sieve and put it in the sauce, being finished in good taste, you bind with the yolks of eggs, and you garnish just before serving with pine nuts and blanched pistachios, and serve with your chickens, you remove the slices of onion from the sauce, add lemon juice, and coarse pepper.
The sauce – really more of what we would call a gravy, these days, looks a bit medieval, but is actually cunningly delicious. I used one egg yolk to thicken, but two might have been better (the yolk I added as for a liaison, slowly adding the sauce to the yolk so as to warm the combination without cooking the egg – the liaison of the two is then added to the rest of the sauce). The sauce cooked for about 45 minutes, so, though it was chunky for sure, the flavors had spread evenly (edited to note that the directions to only sieve the leavings is probably a mistake on the part of the author of Gascon – or perhaps my inadequate French – the whole thing probably needs to be reduced and then strained). Really a great sauce, and it makes you look at both the ingredients and thickening agents for gravy in a whole different way. Why not add a handful of ham and some onions and garlic to your turkey gravy?
Process wise, the sieving of the leavings is important – because of the added ham and bacon fat (we really did stuff the chicken with ham), the leavings are more blackened and carbonized than usual, so after deglazing with broth, it’s important to run it through a fine sieve. The nuts round it out nicely, but the finish with lemon juice is crucial – it really cuts through the potential heaviness of the complicated sauce. The egg yolk as binder – and two yolks would double your problem – adds a decidedly unattractive yellow hue to the proceedings. Not sure what the cure for that is.