Do As The French Butchers Do

Don't say chicken: the noble birds from Normandy are better than that.

Don’t say chicken: the noble birds from Normandy deserve better.

A French poulet fermier is not the chicken most people are used to. Traditionally, they have had an almost decent life of 90 days or so which is at least twice as long as industrial birds are allowed to life. They are raised free-range, roaming the countryside and they get a 100 percent vegetarian diet, of course.

Some of them are world-famous, and rightfully so: the aristocratic Bresse chicken first, the Loué guys, those from Gers

New oven, new features: roasting on a spit is one of them.

New oven, new features: roasting on a spit is one of them.

and Landes and there are many other full-blown appellations. People unaware of the wide range of food qualities might ask: Hey, what’s the fuzz, in the end it’s all chicken, isn’t it? But that is, pardon me, kind of a Kentucky fried question. It’s like saying a Ferrari or a huge Mercedes was just another car like, say, a Nissan. Can’t be.

So the chicken I prepared tonight was a poulet jaune from Normandy, a “yellow chicken”, corn-fed basically and therefore displaying a yellowish skin. My new oven – bought a couple of months ago – has Poulet5the fantastic feature of an automatically turning spit to really roast things like the French butchers do in their mobile barbecues in front of their shops. It’s a life-changer, believe me. I can do real chicken now. It’s so good, actually, that I could sell it!

The Norman chicken I prepared weighed two kilograms, it needed an hour or so of roasting (I basted it with a mixture of salt, pepper, piment d’Espelette, some lemon juice and olive oil beforehand). I put halved Charlotte potatoes and some unpeeled cloves of garlic in a baking tray underneath (all seasoned with rosemary and pepper, salt is only added after they’re cooked).

Once done, you need to let the chicken rest for at least 20 minutes (which is true for any roast). And then the chicken fest can begin. It’s beautiful. Satisfying. My family ate cheerfully, the boys got their hands very fatty, and their sleeves, too.

Sprinkled with taste: potatoes cooked under the roasting poulet.

Sprinkled with taste: potatoes cooked under the roasting, dripping poulet.


  1. I will dream about your oven this night 😉 This chicken looks perfect. I have been buying only free-range or organic chicken for 6 years I think and since I found a butcher with free-organic everything (even turkey!) I no longer buy industrial meat. I think the biggest difference is in chicken and pork (I don’t even mention beef because here organic/free-range is not enough…). The more I buy good-quality meat, the less I go to restaurants… Suddenly the meat tastes awful in most places.

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