Chicken in Lemon Sauce
chicken, including the giblets - 1, about 3 lb
leek, white part only - 1
celery leaves - a few
small piece celeriac - 1
shallots - 1-2
carrot - 1
thyme sprig - 1
bay leaf - 1
finely chopped rosemary, marjoram, basil, sage and savory - 1 pinch each
sweet white wine (sweet Graves or Barsac) - 1 bottle
salt and pepper
double (heavy) cream - 1.25 cups
egg yolks - 5-6
lemon, juice of - 1
lemons, peel and pith of - 2
sugar cubes - 4-5
asparagus tips - 14oz
pastry boats - 4
fluted lemon slices - a few
puff pastry fleurons - 4
Put the trussed chicken in a large copper saucepan with the giblets, the roughly chopped leek, celery or celeriac, shallots, carrot, thyme, bay leaf, herbs, wine, salt and a moderate amount of pepper. Bring slowly to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the chicken is tender.
Pour off half of the stock and strain it through a fine sieve. Keep the chicken warm in the remaining stock in the pan.
Remove the fat from the strained stock by quickly passing a piece of paper towel over the surface. Bring the stock to the boil and cook until reduced to 120-150ml/4-5 fl oz.
Put the cream, egg yolks, reduced stock, lemon juice and a fine julienne of lemon peel in another copper saucepan and beat together.
Place the sugar in a heavy-based pan with a drop of water and heat until the sugar has caramelized, then add 15 ml/1 tbsp water to obtain a syrupy liquid. Add 30 ml/2 tbsp of this caramel to the cream, egg and lemon mixture and whisk vigorously over a high heat until it boils. Continue to whisk over a very low heat (or in a bain-marie) for about 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. If the sauce curdles, add a little cold double (heavy) cream and whisk vigorously.
Blanch the asparagus tips in boiling water, then drain and place on an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with small pieces of butter and heat in the oven until all the moisture has evaporated.
Remove the chicken from the stock and detach its wings and legs. Wipe all the pieces with paper towels and arrange on a heated serving dish. Coat with sauce. Put some sauce in the pastry boats, then top with asparagus tips. Complete the garnish with fluted lemon slices and puff pastry fleurons."
- from "Larousse Traditional French Cooking" by Curnonsky
"Nearly everybody starts his culinary adventures with this dish. And whatever he does wrong may linger on for life. For instance, hard, dry eggs are usually preferred by the very young, and this unfortunate preference is as hard to wean people from as well-done steak. (In his eighties, my Australian father-in-law was still imploring waiters to "incinerate" his.)
First of all, be sure that the white and yolk are completely amalgamated. (I have watched lazy short-order cooks try to do this after the eggs have hit the sizzling grillplate - a hideous striped slab results.) Beat in half a teaspoon of water, milk, or cream for each egg used. Two table forks held slightly spread in one hand do the best job of preparing eggs for scrambling or omelets, because this system avoids overaerating the eggs as a wire whisk tends to. Sprinkle in salt and pepper and blend in any extra ingredient, such as cooked onions, herb, cottage cheese, chipped beef, etc. Cottage cheese may sound a bit weird but it not only lightens and extends the eggs, it really is delicious.
Put a generous amount of butter into a cold skillet (or lightly butter a nonstick pan) and set over medium heat. When the butter is hot and frothing (not browning or smoking), pour the eggs all at once into the center of the pan. Stir lazily in a circular motion with the flat of a fork until the eggs are semi-set but still moist. Serve on warm plates.
Never serve scrambled eggs - or eggs of any kind - on cold plates. In fact, never serve anything on cold plates unless the food is intended to be cold. I am a fanatic on this point and simply cannot understand people who tolerate the best prepared food slowly congealing on the plate before it reaches the table.
Until the fabled Michel Guerard came along (he introduced the French to the idea of haute cuisine diet food with Cuisine Minceur) scrambled eggs had no role in French cookery. But his invention, scrambled eggs in their shells topped with caviar, has been widely copied from Paris to L.A. The French - and English - method of scrambling eggs goes like this: Beat the eggs with their seasonings and a bit of cream. Melt a large lump of butter in the top part of a double boiler set over boiling water. Pour in the eggs and stir them constantly until they are a thick, creamy mass, not curdy as are American scrambled eggs. I don't favor this method because of the resulting texture, but even if this weren't the case, I would object to a technique that always leaves half the eggs stuck to the pot."
-"Good Cheap Food" by Miriam Ungerer