Poached Chicken with Tarragon Gelée
Terence Conran used a poulet de Bresse—a plump, blue-footed chicken from Burgundy—for this dish, but a good free-range chicken tastes good, too. The onion skins give the gelée its rich golden color.
2 large leeks, trimmed, washed, and cut in half
4 ribs celery, trimmed and cut in half
1 carrot, peeled and cut in half
2 medium yellow onions, halved, with papery skins left on
4 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
5 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 calf's foot
1 4-lb. free-range chicken, trussed
1 750-ml bottle good dry white wine
Leaves from 3 branches fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1. Put leeks, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a large deep pot. Put calf's foot and chicken on top of the aromatics, then add wine and enough water (about 16 cups) to just cover chicken. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, carefully skimming any foam. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, continuing to skim foam as it cooks. Remove pot from heat and allow chicken to cool in broth for about 1 hour.
2. Carefully transfer chicken from pot to a platter, cover with a clean damp kitchen towel, and refrigerate. Discard calf's foot, then strain broth through a triple layer of cheesecloth into a medium pot, discarding solids. Simmer over medium heat, skimming foam, until reduced to about 4 cups, about 1 1/2 hours. Pour broth into a 1 1/2-quart ceramic dish, arrange tarragon sprigs in broth, and refrigerate until gelée sets, about 2 hours.
3. Run a paring knife around outside edge of gelée, place a platter on top of dish, and invert to unmold. Carve chicken and arrange on a platter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with gelée and with new potatoes boiled with fresh mint leaves, if you like.