Poulet en Croûte

The elegant French chicken potpie from Catherine Pascal of Cellier aux Moines, in Givry Fr, ance, features hearty pieces of chicken breasts in a fragrant, creamy white wine sauce. The alcohol in the Cognac is cooked off by flambeed, resulting in a richer sauce.

The tangy creme fraiche is balanced by the saltiness of green olives. Tarragon’s licorice-like notes add complexity to this comforting dish. Sauteed lardons give this classic dish a smoky flavor, while button mushrooms provide texture.


  • 2 1/2 cups chopped button mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/3 a cup bacon lardos (about two ounces) (from one to two thick-cut bacon pieces)
  • Two medium shallots chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • Two tablespoons of all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) Cognac
  • Package Frozen all-butter pastry sheet
  • 8 ounces creme fraiche (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pitted green olives
  • One tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • One teaspoon of black pepper
  • Whole milk for brushing


  1. A large Dutch oven should be heated to medium. Add the mushrooms and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 mins. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl. Add lardons. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and adjusting the temperature as necessary to prevent overbrowning. Continue cooking until lardons become crisp and fat is rendered, about 3 to 4 min. Transfer the lardons to a medium bowl using a slotted teaspoon, and reserve drippings from the Dutch oven. Add shallots into Dutch oven and cook for 2 to 3 mins, stirring frequently. Transfer shallots with lardons into a bowl using a slotted teaspoon while reserving the drippings from the Dutch oven. Set shallots apart.
  2. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt on the chicken. Sprinkle flour and coat the chicken well. Add the chicken in one layer to the drippings of a Dutch oven and turn the stove to medium-high. Cook until lightly browned for 3 to 4 mins, rotating once halfway through. Adjust heat to prevent overbrowning. Return shallots and lardons to Duthe tch Oven. Add Cognac, ignite with a long-handled cigarette lighter, and continue stirring until the flames go out. This should take about 30 seconds. Add wine and bring to a boil over medium-high, scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven frequently to remove any browned bits. Reduce heat to low. Cover the Dutch oven and cook for 30 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom often.
  3. Preheat oven to 400degF. Roll the pastry out into a rectangle measuring 15 x 12 inches (roughly 1/8 inch thick) on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the pitot to a baking tray and refrigerate it until you are ready to use.
  4. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Add the creme fraiche and olives. Stir in the tarragon. Pour into a 7 1/2 quart baking dish. Use a round cutter of 1 inch to cut a hole through the center of the pastry. Wet the edges of the baking dish. Press firmly on the rim of the baking dish to cover the lining. Trim pastry edges, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold edges under and secure baking dish edges with water. Brush the pastry with milk. Four (1 1/2 to 2 inch) venting slits, spaced at 1/2 inch apart from the center hole, can be cut to form a cross pattern. Place the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Cover edges loosely with aluminum foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Let the pie stand for 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

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