If you remember from a previous post, I mentioned a cafe near the Sacré Coeur Cathedral that I visited during one of my trips to Paris. The cafe had a drool-worthy chocolate mousse that later led me on a recipe hunt in an effort to recreate it (which I successfully did here).
It also had one of the best poulet frites dishes I’ve ever enjoyed in Paris. Now, everyone and their maman believes they’ve got the recipe for the best roast chicken, and I won’t argue that they don’t.
Roast chicken can be enjoyed in so many different ways, and I’ve experienced tasty roast chicken many times in many different places.
But there was something unique about the roast chicken I had at this cafe near the Cathedral; it had been lightly coated in a gravy-like sauce that seemed to make the chicken all the more juicy and flavorful.
So in a quest to recreate that special poulet frites I experienced that fine day in Paris, I made some gravy. Okay, fine, I made a lot of gravy.
The thing is, most of the gravy I’ve eaten has been a beige sort of color, and it’s been made with turkey fat. But the chicken at this Paris cafe had a rich brown-colored gravy, so I knew I needed to do some recipe-testing to recreate it.
After some research, I came across a recipe from Alton Brown for a dark gravy using red wine. I tried the recipe, but the ratio of red wine to chicken stock was far too much; it tasted too bitter to match what I had tasted on the poulet frites in Paris.
So, I played around with the ratio and instead included just a splash of red wine. I was fantastically rewarded with a rich brown gravy that had just the right flavor for my poulet frites.
All you need is a small spoonful of gravy to lightly coat the roasted chicken thigh in this recipe. You can skip the gravy, of course, but I really love the little something-something that it adds to the chicken.
Poulet frites is traditionally served with French fries (the frites in the name), and une salade. It actually tends to be the dish I order most in Paris, even more than steak frites, because it’s pretty fantastic anywhere you go.
This recipe can be made within 1 hour, so enjoy it for a weekend lunch or any night for dinner!
A classic French bistro dish of roasted chicken with gravy sauce.
for the roast chicken
- 2 pieces of chicken (such as thighs, whole legs, or breast) with skin on
- grilling seasoning see note
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 4 small cloves of garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil for the chicken and pan
- 1 small lemon cut into slices
for the gravy
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- splash of red wine
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pat dry the chicken, then brush both sides of each piece with olive oil. Sprinkle the seasoning on both sides of the chicken.
Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs and the rosemary sprig. Give the leaves a rough chop and toss together. Evenly disperse the herbs among the chicken pieces, sprinkling the herbs over both sides of the chicken. Use your fingers to gently pat the herbs into the chicken.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast-iron pan over high heat. Once the oil is hot, turn the temperature down to medium, and carefully place the chicken pieces into the pan using tongs.
Cook both sides of each chicken piece until it's attained a nice golden brown color. Remove the pan from the heat. Use the tongs to nestle the garlic cloves under the chicken pieces and into their crevices. Garnish the top and sides of the chicken with the lemon slices.
Place the pan in the oven and bake the chicken for approximately 45 minutes, or until their juices run clear.
When the chicken is done baking, transfer the chicken to a separate plate to rest. Remove the garlic cloves and lemon slices. Move the pan over to the stove and melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and use a wooden spoon or whisk to combine the melted butter with the flour. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to release the juicy chicken bits/fat.
After a minute of cooking the flour, add in the chicken broth and the splash of red wine. Mix everything together over medium heat for another few minutes until the sauce has thickened. If your sauce is looking too red, add more chicken broth to compensate. Taste-test to add more or less wine to your desire. Pour over the chicken before serving.
I use Simply Organics Steak Grilling Seasoning, but you can use whatever grilling seasoning you have on hand.