Meryl Streep's and Amy Adams' Favorite Julia Child Recipes

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Meryl's Favorite

Meryl's Favorite: Poulet Poele a l'Estragon (Casserole-Roasted Chicken with Tarragon)

For: roasters, large fryers, and capons
When a chicken is cooked this way, it is trussed, browned in butter and oil, then set to roast in a covered casserole with herbs and seasonings. It is a lovely method, as the buttery, aromatic steam in the casserole gives the chicken great tenderness and flavor. While oven cooking is more even, the top of the stove may be used if your casserole is heavy; then the chicken must be turned and basted frequently, and the cooking will be a little longer than for oven cooking.

For 4 people

Estimated roasting time: 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes for a 3-pound bird.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  3-pound ready-to-cook roasting chicken
  1/4 teaspoon salt
  Pinch of pepper
  2 tablespoons butter
  3 or 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon

Season the cavity of the chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Insert the tarragon leaves, or sprinkle in dried tarragon. Truss the chicken. Dry it thoroughly and rub the skin with the rest of the butter.

  A heavy fireproof casserole just large enough to hold the chicken on its back and on its side
  2 tablespoons butter
  1 tablespoon oil, more if needed

Set the casserole over moderately high heat with the butter and oil. When the butter foam has begun to subside, lay in the chicken, breast down. Brown for 2 to 3 minutes, regulating heat so butter is always very hot but not burning. Turn the chicken on another side, using 2 wooden spoons or a towel. Be sure not to break the chicken skin. Continue browning and turning the chicken until it is a nice golden color almost all over, particularly on the breast and legs. This will take 10 to 15 minutes. Add more oil if necessary to keep the bottom of the casserole filmed.

  3 tablespoons butter, if necessary

Remove the chicken. Pour out the browning fat if it has burned, and add fresh butter.

  1/2 cup sliced onions
  1/4 cup sliced carrots
  1/4 teaspoon salt
  3 or 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon

Cook the carrots and onions slowly in the casserole for 5 minutes without browning. Add the salt and tarragon.

  1/4 teaspoon salt
  A bulb baster
  Aluminum foil
  A tight-fitting cover for the casserole

Salt the chicken. Set it breast up over the vegetables and baste it with the butter in the casserole. Lay a piece of aluminum foil over the chicken, cover the casserole, and reheat it on top of the stove until you hear the chicken sizzling. Then place the casserole on a rack in the middle level of the preheated oven.

Roast for 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes, regulating heat so chicken is always making quiet cooking noises. Baste once or twice with the butter and juices in the casserole. The chicken is done when its drumsticks move in their sockets, and when the last drops drained from its vent run clear yellow.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter and discard trussing strings.

Brown Tarragon Sauce
  2 cups brown chicken stock, or 1 cup canned beef bouillon and 1 cup canned chicken broth
  1 tablespoon cornstarch blended with 2 tablespoons Madeira or port
  2 tablespoons fresh minced tarragon or parsley
  1 tablespoon softened butter

Add the stock or bouillon and broth to the casserole and simmer for 2 minutes, scraping up coagulated roasting juices. Then skim off all but a tablespoon of fat. Blend in the cornstarch mixture, simmer a minute, then raise heat and boil rapidly until sauce is lightly thickened. Taste carefully for seasoning, adding more tarragon if you feel it necessary. Strain into a warmed sauceboat. Stir in the herbs and the enrichment butter.

To serve

Optional but attractive: 10 to 12 fresh tarragon leaves blanched for 30 seconds in boiling water then rinsed in cold water, and dried on paper towels

Pour a spoonful of sauce over the chicken, and decorate the breast and legs with optional tarragon leaves. Platter may be garnished with sprigs of fresh parsley or -- if you are serving them -- sauteed potatoes and broiled tomatoes.

If the chicken is not to be served for about half an hour, make the sauce except for its butter enrichment, and strain it into a saucepan. Return the chicken to the casserole. Place the aluminum foil over it and set the cover askew. Keep the casserole warm over almost simmering water, or in the turned-off hot oven, its door ajar. Reheat and butter the sauce just before serving.

Originally published on, June 2009. Recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child (Knopf, 1961).


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